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KotiOM of Uw AdU 












Ail rigktt retirVid 

^^C^ O'^^ 



Dear Monro^ 

If anything could increase my gratitude 
to you for giving some of your valuable time to my 
Homeric essays, it would be your kindness in letting 
me dedicate them to yourself The weak arrows of 
the literary skirmisher may now be shot^ as it were, 
from under tJie shield of the Scholar, 

Yours very truly, 


St. Andrews: December 1892. 


The Homeric question, the question of the unity of author- 
ship, is a literary problem, yet attempts are constantly made 
to solve it by other than literary' methods. Here arc two 
poems : does each bear the mark and stamp of a single 
authorship, in harmony of tone, in a preconceived catastrophe 
to which all tends, in dramatic consonance of character, 
in grandeur of style ? These are matters of art, but they 
are often approached, not in the spirit of art, but in that 
of a cross-examining barrister, or of an historical student 
testing the accuracy of a statement of facts. The habit of 
minute analysis, as Signor Comparetti says, produces a 
mental short-sightedness, and Homeric commentators see 
the mote immensely magnified, but have no eyes for the 
beam. They pore over the hyssop on the wall, but are blind 
to the cedar of Lebanon. They pick out, or invent, 
blemishes all but invisible, discrepancies which must exist 
in every fictitious narrative, and they regard these as only to 
be explained by diversity of authorship, and by the redact- 
ing, patching, and combining into a mechanical whole, of 
lays, fragments, and mutilated epics wrought by many hands 
in many ages. 

This method, we ar^ue here, is erroneous, tt has its 
origin in the ailments of Wolf against the possible exist- 
ence of a long continuous early Creek epic. These argu- 
ments led men to look for the traces of joins in the poems, 
and to find them, to hunt for the resulting discrepancies, 
and to discover them. But U'olPs a priori arguments, we 
try to show, are no longer valid. It is not impossible that 
a long early Greek poem might haie been composed, and 
might survive. This being so, we plead for wider and more 
generous views of the Iliad and Odyssey, for a study of 
poetry as poetry, not as a dubious clause in a Bill, or a 
doubtful statement by an historian. 

In one way the prevalent literary taste is adverse to a 
correct judgment of Homer. It is plain to every reader that 
long narrative poonis are now out of fashion. In all English 
literature only four or five long narrative poems are widely 
read, if even they are widely read. The Faery Queen, Paradise 
Los/, Scott's Lay and Afarmion, and Don Juan. Our taste 
is such thatjEdgar Poe denied the existence of such a thing 
as a long poem ; there are only moments of poetry, he said, 
in a mass of verse which is unpoet]Cal.| It is this kind of 
taste which makes Wilamowit^ Moellendorff obsene, about 
the author of the Iliad, that ' if he made the Fatroeleia, or 
the .Mri-n, he was a great poet, but if he made our Iliad, he 
was a L^ickpiHt— a botcher.' ' 

Xow, with all admiration for the critic's great learning, 
research, and brilliance, he seems here to be simply stating 
Poe's paradox in a concrete form. The remark would 
apply as well to Milton, Byron, Scott, or Spenser, not one 
of whom is always on the level of his best passages, w hich 
' Hem. Uitttrstuk., p. jSo. 


alone, in Poe's theory, deserve the name of poetry. But 
Homer lived in an age, whatever that age may have been, 
when long narrative poems were in vogue. His generation, 
his audience, were not at the point of view of Poe and 
Wilamowitz. They did not cry 

Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus, 

and deny that the drowsy passage was by the true Homer. 
We must read him as his audience listened ; we must not 
pore over him with microscopes. That is our argument, 
though we try to show that even the discoveries of micro- 
scopical criticism have less importance than the microscopists 
imagine. Into the linguistic question, the supposed 
lonicising of an ^olic epic, the author has not ventured to 
go. It is a matter for experts in language, not for the mere 
literary student. 

As far as this problem of language affects the other 
problems as to the original home and time of the epics, 
whether in continental Greece, or on the coast of Asia 
Minor, whether before or after the colonisation of the 
Asiatic shores, the author is inclined to agree with Mr. Leaf 
in his introduction to his Compatiion to the Iliady and with 
Mr. Monro in his paper on Homer and tlie Early History 
of Greece,"^ That is to say, the poems, or the bulk of them, 
were first sung in continental Greece, Argolis, Thessaly, or 
Boeotia, before the founding of the colonies on the other 
side of the ^Egean. It is pleasant to be able, in spite of our 
total difference as to the composition of the Iliad, to agree 
here with Mr. Leaf. As to the question of one author or 
many authors, the question of the unity of the Iliad, we are 
never likely to convert each other. If there be here and 

* Historical KevieWy No. i, 1886. 

there a needless vi\'acity in our attempts to answer his 
a^uments, we would say, with Euryalus, 

To the Provost of Oriel, Mr. Monro, I must here 
express my thanks for his kindness in reading my proof- 
sheets. I almost doubt if I should name him, ' pour ne lui 
point donner une part de responsahilite dans les fautes que 
je suis seul coupable d'avoir laisse subsister.' ' But every 
reader who detects an error will know that I only am 
responsible. Nor is it to be assumed that Mr. Monro 
agrees with all the views expressed. On the matter of the 
tenth book of the Iliad, for example, we are not at one : 
though I have no great confidence in my attempted 
defence of its originality. 

I have also to thank Mr. Edmund Gosse for examining 
what is here said about the Northern lays and the Volsunga 
Saga, assistance most valuable to one who only reads the 
Sagas in translations. Mr. A. S. Murray and Mr. Cecil 
Smith have, with unwearied kindness, imparted to an 
amateur some inkling of archaeology. The gem engraved 
on the cover, which seems to represent an Achaean 
Mrs. Gamp and Mrs. Prig, is from a gold ring published 
by MM. Furtwaengler and Loeschke in their work on 
Mycenaean vases. The part of the discussion of the Iliad 
which deals with book xvi. appeared in the Natioaat Revieu-', 
and most of the chapter on ' Homer and Archaeology ' in 
the QuarUrly Retinv. The author has to thank the con- 
ductors of these periodicals for permission to reprint his 
obsen-ations here. 

' Gaston Paris, La Lill/ratuit Franfaitt tut .l/ejv* ./j,«, p. vl 



I. Homer's Place in Literature . 
II. Introduction to Wolf 

III. Wolf's Theory ..... 

IV. Criticism of Wolf .... 
V. Criticism of Wolf .... 

VI. The Composition of the Iliad 
VII. The Composition of the Iliad . 
VHI. Odysseus and the extant Odyssky 
IX. Composition of the Odyssey— Modern Theories 
X. Composition of the Odyssey— Aitacks on Book I 
XI. Attempts to Date the Odyssey. Calypso am 

v^lKCE ...... 

XII. Attempts to Dislocate the Odysskv . 

XIII. Conclusion of the Odyssey 

XIV. The Lost Epics of Greece 
XV. Homer and Arch/COlogy 

XVI. Homer and other early Epics 
XVII. The * Song of Roland ' . 
XVIII. The * Kalewai.a ' . 

Conclusion ..... 

.\ppendix ....... 
















In an age full of other, and othenvise pressing, questions, it 
may l>e held that the Homeric question should be allowed 
to go by ; that Seneca was right when he said life was too 
short for it, that we should dally no longer with this ancient 
(fordian knot. It is not practical, it does not affect the 
well-l>eing of society. We can read Homer, if we choose, 
without asking when he lived or where were * his city and 
they that begat him,' or whether, indeed, his name is not a 
noun of multitude, and his poetry a collection of elegant 
miscellanies. To this we must answer that, whatever the 
urgent practical problems and distractions of an age, men of 
letters are enlisted to keep flying the colours of the highest 
literature, of all that makes and records the flower of 
civilisation. Pessimists may prophesy that our public 
oratory, far unlike the elaborate rhetoric of Louvet and 
Robespierre and Vergniaud, will decline into mere bandied 
abuse. They may frighten themselves by a vision of our 
poetry seeking the Fountain of Youth in the idioms of the 
costermonger and the dialect of Cokaync. Even were there 
good grounds for these apprehensions, are we not engaged 



to maintain, as best >ie may, the ever new and fresh love of 
what is old and excellent, the admiration of that divine 
poetry which, during three thousand years, has been the 
delight and the consolation of the world ? Now, though 
the poetry abides unaltered, the conditions of its readers are 
eternally changing. We cannot study Homer as Xenophanes 
did, or Socrates, or Nero, who died with a Homeric Hne on 
his lips, or as Eustathius did, or as Pope and Boileau did, 
or even as Wolf or Lachmann studied him. New knowledge 
keeps coming in, knowledge drawn from the records of 
Oriental empires, from comparative study of customs, from 
the graves of the royal dead in Mycenae. New theories are 
raised, prevail, and fall obsolete : we have often to ask our- 
selves where we stand in our knowledge of the Bible of 

To forget Homer, to cease to be concerned and even 
curious about Homer, is to make a fatal step towards a new 
barbarism. Mankind exists, or should exist, not to live only, 
but, as Aristotle defines it, to live nobly. A noble and 
enjoyable life demands an imaginative |)articipation in all 
that the human race has done, or said, or thought, which is 
excellent. The outcasts of Poker Flat, in Mr. Bret Hartes 
tale, consoling their last hours with the story of Asheels, in 
Pope's Iliad, were living a nobler life than the comfortable 
citizen, who reads newspapers, and nothing but newspapers 
all day, and wakens with a fresh appetite for his morning 
journal. To keep up, to diffuse, as far as we may, interest in 
the best literature, is the dutvof all who have been educated 
and called to this task. 

Inopportune as their endeavours may seem, their work 
is like that of the copyist monks in the Middle Ages. 
They, too, were out of harmony with their age, but they 
were working for the age which was to come. If, in the 
future, an age of general well-being is to arrive, its children 


will turn, as all men who have the opportunity must, to 
what is best in human art, to the literature of (Greece. It 
is our business, in our degree, to applaud and to elucidate 
it, to clear it, if we can, from doubts and erroneous theories, 
to see it as it is, and as it was in its origins, to keep remind- 
ing the distracted age of those Islands Fortunate sleeping in 
the ocean of times dead and gone. 

In the front of all poetry stands the i)oetry of Hellas, 
and in its foremost rank stand the epics of Homer. If we 
were offered the unhappy choice whether we would lose 
Homer and keep the rest of Clreek poetry, or keep the rest 
and lose Homer, there could be little doubt as to our 

We would rescue the Iliad and the Odyssey. How much 
and how invaluable the remainder is, we know. The 
stately tragedies, the immortal comedies, the triumphant 
odes of Pindar, the pictures of hill and glade, river and 
well, and the pastoral life in Theocritus, the passion and 
patriotism of Sappho and Simonides, all the mirth, the love, 
the laments of the Anthology, would be known and heard 
no more. But as, if a similar choice were put before us in 
English literature, we should keep Shakspeare, and let 
SjKMiser and Shelley, Scott and Wordsworth disappear, 
because Shakspeare in a sense includes them all — includes 
the romance of Keats, and the speculation of Wordsworth, 
the humour of Scott, and his delight in l)attlc includes the 
flower of all lyric melody, every mood, and all thought— so 
Homer includes, in essence, the sum of all (ireek poetry. 
It is a whole world, with all its possibilities of joy and 
sorrow that lives in the Iliad and Odyssey. The tragedian 
avowed that his own plays were only * scraps from the great 
Homeric banquet.' The funereal wails of Meleager in tlu- 
Anthology are present already in the half lyric laments of 
Andromache and Helen over Hector slain. The figures of 

4 homer's rillLOSOPHY 

Eros and Aiitcros arc here, in the noble affection of Andro- 
mache and Hector, in the shameful, the repentant, the agi- 
tated i)assion of Paris and Helen. The solemn thoughts of 
human fortunes, and the justice of Heaven, which .Kschylus 
lK)nders l)eside the Titan's l>ed of |>ain, on the rocks of 
Caucasus, are already meditated by Homer. His Ate, 
which blinds men, his .Kgisthus and ClytiKmnestra, who 
draw down sorrow beyond their doom, his fate, which 
controls both mortals and gods, Homer's reflections, in the 
Odyssey, on the lot of man, * the most unhappy of all 
creatures,' his stoical conclusion in the resolute valour of 
Hector and Odysseus, anticii)ate in simple terms the results 
of all later speculation. Already the problems are stated, and 
the Homeric answer is given in the words of the Lycian 
Sarpedon, * Ah, friend I if once esca|)ed from this Ixittle, we 
were for ever to Ix: ageless, and immortal, neither would 1 
fight myself in the foremost ranks, nor would I send thee 
into the war that yieldeth men renown ; but now — for 
assuredly ten thousand fates of death do every way beset 
us, and those no mortal may escape or avoid — now let us 
onward ! ' Zeus has given to man an enduring mind. 
The tides of mortal fortune must come and go. (treat 
llios must i»erish on its day, the city of Priam of the ashen 
bpear. * Hut now, since 1 have heard the voice of the 
goddess, and luuked upon her face, 1 will go forth, and her 
word shall nut be void. And if it be mv fate to die beside 
the ships of the mail-clad Achaeans, so would I have it ; let 
Achilles slay me with all speed, when once I have taken in 
my arms my son, and have satisfied my desire with moan.' 

We too, in Homer, see the face and hear the voice of 
the goddess, of the Muse, and are heartened to go forth and 
meet our destiny. The philosophy of Homer, simply as 
his problems are stated, is fortified against all vicissitude. 
His mind, like the mind of Herodotus is constantly occu- 


pied by the thought of change, how the ancient city must 
fall, and fall, too, must its conqueror, slain on his own 
hearthstone in the full fruition of victory. Nay, the very 
civilisation of which Homer sings, with all its valour and 
art and gold, is to go down before the assaults of the 
Dorians. His Achilles is the type of triumphant youth, 
but of youth with sheer doom before its eyes. To him 

*One crowded hour of glorious life 
Is worth an age without a name' 

His eyes are open from the first, and his choice is made. 
This, then, is the philosophy of Homer, and to what other 
l)etter philosophy have the schools of three thousand years 
brought their disciples? It is for this clear vision, this 
lucid insight into the ultimate questions, that Greece chose 
Homer for the master of masters, the teacher of all philo- 
sophers, * the first of those who know.* 

His theor)' of life might thus be called melancholy. 
Even at home, after all his wanderings, the curse of the 
sea god yet, hangs over Odysseus, his troubles are not over, 
he set forth again into the unheard of lands. 1'horc is 
no continuance of mortal happiness, *hcre we have no 
abiding city,* but against this Homer docs not repine. 
With his clear vision of the end of all living, he combines 
the gladdest enjoyment of life. To him the world is full of 
joy. Storms, and snow, and sea, the ruinous rains, the 
noisy torrents that divide the hills, the eyes of lions, the 
peaceful piping of the shepherd, the murmur of man and 
maid from rock and oak-tree, the woven tlancc, the 
tribunal, all the arts ofshi|)-building and sea-craft, of weapon- 
forging, of chariot-building, of gold work, of weaving and 
embroidery, all the life of peace, of the chase and the 
festival and the song, all the life of war, ambush, and siege, 
and march, clashing of shields, and countering of chariots, 
all is alike dear to him, all makes part of the eternally 


moving, the eternally abKorbing spcclactc. His wotli-a-day 
world is on ever)- hand environed with the divine, as the 
refluent stri-ani of Oceanus j-irdles the earth. The gods 
appear in tteautifiil !<ha|)cs of young men and humrtss 
maidens ; in the unsailed seas, the untrodden isles, the 
goddess bums her rragmnt (ire, and sings her magic song, 
as she weaves at the immortal loom. Kverythiiig is full of 
{HtssiliilitieK, evcrj- atbenturL' tempts him, whether here he 
meets the courteous and clement Egyptians, by the river 
.■flgyptus, or there the cannilia! I^slrjgonians, by their 
fiord in the land of the midnight sun. This world that is so 
hard, this life that must end in death, are yet rich in the 
lieautiful and the strange. Man's days arc wealthy in 
works and deeds, he is a warrior, a counsellor, n hunter, a 
shipwright, a sntith, a mower in the fields of hay, a plough- 
man Iwhind the steers. 

This is life, as Homer paints it, life cheered by women 
as fair as the heroes are bold, ladies loyal, staunch, wise, 
lender and true, fit males for the heroes. AVbcn the men 
are dead in latlle and eaten of dogs, before the women lies 
the day of captivity, ' to strew another's bed and bring 
water from another's well," but the hour is their own. 

Thus Homer takes all exixricnce for his ])rovince, in his 
similes he gives us idylls, 'little pictures' of jiastoral or 
hunting days encounters with lions, adrentures in the 
mountain mists, wars with the sea waves for home and for 
dear life, lal>our in evcrj- kind, sketches of children, liuildin;; 
houses of sea sand, or clinging to their mother's gown, and 
crying to l>e taken up in her arms. He has humour, too, 
as in his pictures of the squabbles of Olympus, the spctchcs 
of Thersites, the arrogance of the wooers, the girl in thought 
about her wedding day, the easy luxurious I'ha'acians. 
'His lyre has .all ihe chords '—now the triumphant .\cha;ans, 
Ix'aring Hector dead break into a p^eaii, now the women 


shrill the dirge, as even yet tliey do in Corsica. 'I'he epic 
is thus the sum of all poetry — tragedy, comedy, lyric, dirge, 
idyll, are all blended in its great furnace into one glorious 
metal, and one colossal group. Another style of composi 
tion Homer offers us, which nowhere else we receive from 
Greece, till we get it, in decadent though still beautiful shape, 
in (ireece's dying age. 'i'he epic, in the Odyssey, becomes 
a romance, the best of all romances, and the most skilfully 
narrated. No later tale can match, in sheer skill of composi- 
tion, wMth the Odyssey. 

This is not all. The epics are not only poetry, but 
history, history not of real events, indeed, but of real man- 
ners, of a real world, to us otherwise unknown. The heroic 
and sacred poetry of other peoples, as of Vedic India and 
of Finland, goes back into the years before history was. 
But the Vedas have but little of human interest, the Finnish 
Kainvala has no composition, and is merely a stitching to- 
gether of disjointed lays of adventure, or of popular songs. 
The Iliad and the Odyssey, keeping all the fresh vivacity 
and unwearied zest of * popular' poetry, are also master- 
pieces of conscious art. Homer does not wander in a 
poetic chronicle along the ages, or all through a hero's 
career ; he seizes on a definite moment in the Siege of Troy, 
a set of circumstances centring in one heroic passion, or he 
tells a clearly circumscribed tale of Odysseus' return. Many 
peoples have heroic lays, or poetic chronicles of legendary 
events. ( Greece alone had a poet who could handle these 
with the method of a master. We readily see how Homer 
can rise above his time, while remaining true to his time. 
His age, though rich in minor decorative arts, had no 
accomplished statuary. The poet could not inspire himself 
from sculpture. On the other hand, it is his description of 
Zeus that inspired the colossal work of Phidias in a later 
day. The statues he knew were probably rude ancient 



idols, covered with sacred rol)es. But when he describes 
Athene arming, we see the polished Ixxiy of the (loddcss, the 
gleaming armour, the immortal raiment, *as in a picture.' 
It is thus that Homer rises al)Ove the age whose ways, 
whose arms, whose ships, whose chariots, whose golden cups, 
and necklets, and ornaments of amber he paints so firmly. 
He tells -us plainly of a civilisation far advanced, when 
women were honoured and listened to as the equals of meii 
though they were ceremonially purchased in wedlock. It 
was an age when religion, apart from mythic and scandalous 
anecdote, was comparatively clean. AVe hear of no foul 
rites of purification with pig's blood ; the Mysteries, with 
their mingling of the lewd, the barbaric, and the sublime* 
are never the subject of an allusion. 

The Gods do not make love in the guise of eagle and 
ant, of dog, and swan, and bear, as in the mythology of a 
later and more cultivated time. The worst moral stain on 
later (Ireek character is never mentioned even in a hint. 
In many ways. Homer's age is divided from the historic age 
by a great gulf, and much of the Homeric .social excellence 
was never revived by pagan Greece. All this is histor)', of 
a kind, and, but for Homer, all this would have been for 
ever forgotten. 

'i'he relics of his own, or of a yet earlier period, which 
the spade has revealed at Mycenre and elsewhere, would l)e 
indecipherable if the epics had not sur\-ived among the 
ruins of many civilisations. This gives another charm and 
value to Homer, in addition to his poetic worth. This 
makes his poems a yet more priceless and unique possession 
of humanity. His own age cherished them, and they 
escaped in the fall of the Achaean empire. I^ter (ireece 
adored them ; Rome received and imitated them ; the 
Middle Ages took them from Rome in the shape which 
Virgil gave them, and in curious penerted tradition. Even 


ancient Ireland had its own singularly altered version of the 
Odyssey. The Renaissance woke to the enjoyment of 
Homer, Petrarch dying with a copy of the book which he 
could not read in his hands. Homer l^came more than 
ever what he had always been, the moster and teacher of 
poetry. Faint and distorted echoes from him had in- 
spired Chaucer, he had been the guide of \'irgil, who, again, 
was the guide of Dante. With the renewal of (ireek, he 
came forth into the daylight, though it was rather a revival 
or avatar of his genius than the knowledge of his works 
which gave inspiration to Scott. Not till the French 
Revolution, and the storm of changed opinion which blew 
with it, did scholars seriously doubt whether there had 
indeed been any Homer, and seriously try to think that his 
magnificent unity of thought, of style, of manners, was the 
result of a congeries of atoms, the work of many minds, in 
many ages. These questions have not injured Homer; nay, 
they have stimulated to a more constant study of his 
|x>ems, and have kept interest in them alive. The ages of 
Anne and Louis XIV., in spite of the translation by Popc^ 
and the defence by Boileau, had little of the Homeric spirit. 
A more general, a more vivid appreciation of him was 
excited by the very causes which impelled Wolf to criticise 
him, namely by the revived love of romance and of old 
popular poetry. Meanwhile the question as to whether 
Wolfs doubts are justified, is the matter which this book, in 
its degree, tries to discuss. Thus far we have spoken of 
Homer as we speak of Shakspeare, taking pride in so 
great and delightful a triumph of a single human spirit, 
listening in wonder to one lyre of so many various and 
harmonious chords. But our triumph must pass, and only 
our wonder remain, if the Homeric poems, their music, 
their pictures, their consistent philosophy of life, are to be 
explained as a mass of old and new, of interpolations, ot 


do vctai lings, of essays by rhapsodists and ' diaskeuasts/ 
Achaean minstrelsy, and Ionian imitation, all combined, 
no man knows how or by whom, offered to Greece as the work 
of a single artist, and accepted, by the jealous and isolated 
communities of Cireece, for what they pretended to be. 
Certainly our wonder abides, and is greatly increased, if this 
literar)- miracle can l)e established, in a world where miracles 
do not hapi)en. If there were so many great poets, almost 
all so much alike, all with one theor)* of life, all with one 
knowledge of manners, institutions, arts, and of the world : 
if, despite these congruities, they lived in different epochs, 
in different states ; if their effusions could be combined into 
the epics, and if all (Ireece could be i)ersuaded to accept the 
combination as one artist's work, then miracles after all do 

In discussing the possibility or prolmbility of these ideas, 
we shall l)egin, where the Homeric question, proi>erly speak- 
ing, commences, with a statement and criticism of Wolfs 
famous Prok^omena, We shall then examine the composi- 
tion of the Iliad, and of the Odyssey, taking for chief texts the 
conclusions of Mr. l^af, in his excellent edition of the Iliad, 
and the latest German criticism. Next we shall consider 
the archaeological theories of Homer's date and civilisation 
l)ased on recent discoveries. We shall then com|)are Homer 
with certain other early national poems, such as the Chanson 
de Roiand^ the Kaleivahiy and Bemvulf^ trying to show in what 
respects his work resembles, and in what it transcends and 
differs from, these interesting lays. We shall then state the 
conclusion to which we have Ikxmi guided by the whole pro- 
cess—namely, that the Homeric epics, in spite of certain 
flaws, and breaks, and probable insertion of alien matter, 
are mainly the work of one, or, at the most, of two, great 
poets. Their place in literature has already lieen defined, 
they contain the voice of a whole lost world, they are full of 


the prime vigour of the Cireek genius, and may be accepted 
as the sum, in an early and vigorous form, of all that the 
(jreek genius was able to accomplish. What all ancient 
literature offers us, namely the sense of living a more opu- 
lent life, enriched by sympathy with a life s{)ent under widely 
different conditions of society, climate, knowledge, and 
religion. Homer, by virtue of his antique date and perished 
civilisation, offers yet more abundantly. He communicates 
to us the common thrill of humanity ; for his men face, in 
other guises than ours, the same problems as we — the eternal 
problems of death and life, of war and |)eace, of triumph 
and defeat, of pleasure and pain. Our own sense of vitality 
is thereby in a measure increased, and, as it were, there is a 
kind of transfusion into our veins of the heroic blood, of the 
vigour in the liml)s of the sons of (lods. Even if we doubt 
concerning our portion and lot in the future, by the know- 
ledge of Homer our share in the past is secured, and we arc 
made conscious partakers in his heroes' immortality, sharers 
in the joy of all who have loved him, of Archilochus and 
Virgil, of Plato and (loethe. In this, there is a truth more 
than rhetorical, and in this joy an inalienable possession. 
As men, after all, are so made that they desire to be grate- 
ful for a poem to a ])oct a sentiment of which Longinus 
appreciated the generous enjoyment — and not to a vague 
SiKicte des Gens de Lett res, it is hoped that the argument may 
help to strengthen the belief in one author, not in a college 
of collaborators, and so may add, however slightly, to the 
pleasure taken in the Iliad and Odyssey. I^'or it does not 
appear to us that the question of the single or the composite 
authorship of the poems, is of no rcsthctic importance, that 
the epics are just as excellent whether they be the work of 
one genius, or a patchwork, a mosaic of different pieces, 
derived from different ages. In that case, much of the poems 
must be sham antiques, the manners must have been arti- 


ficially reconstructed by minstrels who did not live in the 
world of the earlier lays. The characters will not have been 
conceived by one master genius, but Achilles will l)e in 
origin the creation of one mind, Odysseus of another, Helen 
of a third ; and many other poets must have adroitly kept up 
the unity of characters which they did not invent or create. 
Thus we have to allow for at least two Achilles's, the second 
acting in direct contradiction of the character of the first, 
according to the separatist theory. We can never be sure 
that some new poet is not making a hero act as his first 
creator would not have had him act ; we may l)elieve that 
the original poet, had he foreseen the future, would have 
killed all his personages, as Addison killed Sir Roger de 
Coverley to keep him out of the hands of Steele. We have 
seen, in late days, attempts to continue Coleridge's Chris- 
taM and the greatest novels of Dumas. These efforts are 
egregious failures, hence we more distrust the hypothesis of 
Homeric continuators, working throughout several centuries. 
Where we have been wont to admire the unity of one genius, 
we are now asked to ceasure 'diaskeuasts,' editors, younger 
ix)ets, and to grope among a perfect Almanack of the Muses. 
If these criticisms he correct — if the original poet of the 
Odyssey, for example, never dreamed of the hero's adventures 
among the wooers, and his meeting with the old hound Argos 
— we cannot but feel our confidence shaken, and our pleasure 
turned to pain and bewilderment. This is no argument in' 
favour of shunning analysis ; * the truth must be sought at ' 
all costs,* but it is not certain that the truth, when found, 
will prove to l)e disenchanting. About Homer it is just 
possible that the Poets may be right, and the Professors may 
l)e ^Tong,* 

' In 1778 Ramsay tnld John5«n that he •supp<»sc<l Homer's 
Iliail to l)e a collection of pieces written l)efore his time.* In 1773, 
Mr. McQueen, in Skye, * alleged that Homer uasmadeupof dctftcfacd 
fragments.' Johnson denied this. 



The Homeric iiuestion has always been discussed, in various 
aspects, since literature became conscious and curious as to 
its own origins. A portion of the Homeric poems is alluded 
to in the fragments of Archilochus, and the comparison of 
the life of man to the forest leaves is quoted by Simonides, 
and attributed to *the Man of Chios.' Pausanias, in the 
second century of our era, tells us that Callinus, about 700 
B.C. supiKised Homer to be the author of a poem on the 
heroic legend of Thel)es.' Herodotus, in the fifth century 
n.c. (ii. 1 1 7) denies to Homer the authorship ol the Cypria^ 
and speculates as to his date, which he places some four 
hundred years before his own (ii. 53). Popular songs and 
riddles, and humorous or satiric i)oems like the ' Battle of 
Frogs and Mice' and the Mar^iks^ were attributed to 
Homer, as also were the hynnis. The so-called 'Lives of 
Homer ' were based on remarks in these works. Nothing 
is certain, except that men of letters in Greece knew nothing 
about the personality of Homer, and guessed much. After 
the founding of Alexandria, as we shall see in the chapter 
on Wolfs Prok^omemi, acute criticism was busy with the 
editing of Homer and the purification of his text. The 
chief traces of ancient doubts concerning Homer are to be 
found in the vague tradition, later to be investigated, that 

* Paus. ix. 9, 5. 


his poems had become 'scattered,' and were rt*united in 
Athens about the time of the Pisistratidae. ) Again, 
Josephus (90 A.D.), in defending Hebraic against Hellenic 
antiquities, mentions an opinion that Homer could not 
write. There are vestiges, in ancient notes or schoiia^ dating 
in part from the Alexandrine age (200 ii.c. and onwards) of 
a |>aradox, or theory dividing the authorship of Odyssey and 
Iliad. The l)elie vers in this view were called * Chorizontes,' 
or * Separatists.' After the revival of letters the remark of 
Josephus, that, in general opinion, Homer could not write, 
was commented on by Casaubon (1 559-1614) in a note on 
Diogenes ]>aertius (ix. 12). Perizonius (1684) in his 
Afti'madversiones Historiciv (p. 209), made observations on 
the late Greek use of writing for historical purposes, and 
conceived that Homer himself did not write his lays, but 
committed them to memory. In his remarks we have the 
kernel of the later Homeric controversy, but, as Volkmann 
says, even Wolf does not seem to have known the work of 
his predecessor. He was acquainted, however, with an 
obiter dictum of BeiUley, in Remarks upon a late Discourse 
of Free Thinkiu^ (1713), where Bentley declares that 
* Homer wrote a sc^juel of songs and rhapsodies. . . . These 
loose songs were not collected into the form of an epic pcfcm 
till alx)Ut ^\Q. hundred years after.' 

Charles Perrault doubted if there was anv Homer at 
all. * II y a des savants qui ne croient pas a Texistence 
dHomere, et qui disent (jue I'Uiade ct I'Odyssee ne sont 
qu'un amas de plusieurs petits |H)emes de divers auleurs 
qu'on a joints ensemble. C est I'avis de tres habiles gens. 
L'Al)l)e d'Aubignac ncn doutait pas, il avail des niemoires 
tout ecrits.' The Ablx* d'Aubignac, Boileau says, had but 
a moderate knowledge of Cireek. However, he wrote his 
G;///Vt*///n'j, published posthumously in 1715, and, accord- 
ing to M. Rigault, invented all that the Germans only 

d'aubigxac and blackwell 15 

obscure.' Fdnelon had just been demonstrating the existence 
of a Deity, by that of Homer. Here is a poem, therefore 
there is a poet ; here is a universe, therefore there is a 
God.''* Now the Abbe said in his haste that there was no 
poet. It was a kind of constructive atheism. The Abbe 
had to be the Darwin of the Homeric world, and explain 
how it was evolved, as he had got rid of its creator. He 
imagines, about fifty years after the fall of Troy, a set of 
lays by various hands on the subject of the war, lays sung 
by 'rhapsodists'— of course an error in literary history. 
These men were often blind : Homer's name means * blind : ' 
* Homer's poems ' mean * songs of a blind crowder.' Some- 
one collected these fragmentary pieces ; perhaps he was 
Lycurgus. His collection was imperfect : not till the edition 
made for, or by, Hipparchus and Pisistratus had Cireece her 
Iliad and Odyssey. On the whole, the Abbe d'Aubignac is 
only the Empedocles, or at most the l,amarck, not the 
Darwin, of Homeric evolution. 

In 1715, the Abbe d'Aubignac regarded the Homeric 
poems as a mere collection of loose lays, but his learning 
was not equal to his audacity."^ Vico (1725) looked on 
Homer as no real historical personage, and believed that 
the loose lays were collected, as in the vague ancient legends, 
and written out under Pisistratus. The very name of 
Blackwell's book. An IfUfuiry into the Life and AN'rilings 0/ 
Homer (>f$t), shows how little these speculations affected 
him— *I do not say that Homer and Hesiod had no 
learning of this sort,' namely * from books ' (p. 1 29) ; and 
Hlackwell speaks of this or that ' part of Homer's 7vri tints' 
* letters were then but little known,' however (p. ^2), 
lilackwell, by the way, does observe. * These poems, they 
tell you, Homer did not commit to writing himself, but his 

' Querelle des Anc tens et dcs Modcntes^ p. 4 1 3. 

* Dc V Existence de DicUj i. ch. i. • Wolf, Prok^. p. cxiv. 


posterity in Chios ; and the rhapsodists, who were for ever 
reciting them, came at last to have them by heart, and 
Cynajthus, their chief, while he preserved Homer's verses, 
did intermix a good many of his own invention,* such as the 
Hymn to Apollo (p. i lo, 1 1 1). He scouts the authority of 

* a nameless scholiast of Pindar,* who is the evidence for 
this notion. 

The influence of Macpherson's Ossian (1760-1765) was 
all in favour of a Ixjlief in rude uncultivated ' nature-poets,* 
and the tendency now was to reduce Homer to their ranks. 
In 1775 appeared the jx>slhumous Essay on the Original 
Genius and Writings of Homer, h\ * the late Robert Wood, 
Esq.* ' In this work (p. 248) Wood asks, * How far the use 
of writing was known to Homer.* He denies that any 

* idea of letters or reading is to lie found in Homer.* The 
famous letter of Bellerophon - is ' syml)olical, hieroglyphical, 
or picture description* (p. 250). It may have resembled, 
Wood thinks, the picture-writing of the Aztecs. But Wood 
does not conclude from Homer's silence to Homer*s igno- 
rance, *a manner of reasoning which has Ijeen carried loo 
far on other oixasions.* But there are, in Homer, no 
written treaties, no inscril)ed tombstones. Even when 
writing did reach Cireece, * it was attended with much diffi- 
culty.* * The materials, too, were very rude, and inadequate 
to the purpose (p. 252). Writing would come in gradually, 
and almost unnoticed, from the Phoenicians. Prose com- 
position is late in Greece, a proof of tardiness in wTJting. 
*The common familiar use of an alphabet* must l)e al)out 
the same date as prose composition m (irecce, al>out 550 
r..c. The earliest written laws were late, and wcru 
monumentally inscribed. 

' There was an earlier eilitiun of 1769. Wolf u:>cil, apparenlly, ihe 
Lviition of 1 775* 
« IHad, vi. 16S. 


This argument, to which various objections are to be 
urged, was the inspiration of Wolf. In Macpherson, too, 
collecting and writing and publishing the so-called Ossianic 
lays, he had a parallel for the work mythically assigned to 
Pisistratus. Heyne and Tiedemann (1780) were turning 
their thoughts in the same direction. Chesterfield was 
comparing Homer's heroes to * porters.' As early as 1770, 
in a college essay, Wolf entered on his sceptical career. He 
was snubbed by Heyne, but persisted, being specially moved 
by his detection of a fresh and incongruous tone in the last five 
books of the Iliad ; while this tone recurs in the Odyssey. 

In 1788 appeared Villoison's edition of the Iliad, con- 
taining the previously unpublished scholia or notes of the 
Venice manuscript, which, again, are rich in excerpts from 
Aristarchus and the great Alexandrians. This was a mine 
of information for Wolf. How hard and thoroughly he 
worked we .shall learn from his own confessions in 
the analysis of his Prolegowcua to the Iliad,' a tract 
ha.stily composed while the printer*s devil waited for 
* copy.' Jacta est nka I he cries, he has crossed the 
Rubicon, and the modern Homeric (question has begun to 
rage. Over the reception and contemporary criticism of 
the Prolegomena we need not linger. Goethe was at first 
carried away by the tide, and toasted * the man who has 
delivered us from the name of Homer.' 15ut on May 16, 
1798, he wrote to Schiller : *I am more than ever convinced 
of the indivisible unity of the Iliad ; the man lives not, nor 
ever shall be born, who can destroy it.' With the exception 
of Coleridge, poets have usually sided with Coethe against 
Wolf, and Mr. Matthew Arnold was a staunch defender of 
the epic unity.* 

' Halle, 1795. 

* Volkmann*s Gesfhichte und Kritik der Wolfschni Prokgofneiia 
(I^ipzig : 1874) has Ijeen followed in this chapter, 



wolf's theory 

The Prole^omeua begin with some general remarks on the 
editing of ancient texts. *A true recension/ says Wolf, 
* with all the aid of the best materials, seeks everj-where for 
the very hand of the original author ' (p. iv), and everj'where 
relies, not on taste, but on evidence, reasoned examination 
of the sources of the texts compared. The assiduous study 
of texts, of as many and as good as possible, is absolutely 
necessary. On this topic, in general, there is no difference 
of opinion. But Wolf finds that, in the case of Homer, there 
is some doubt as to whether much should be made of the 
differences in the manuscripts. The Homeric manuscripts 
older than the eleventh and twelfth centuries of our era are 
few and far to seek. * If the doubts expressed go so far as to 
imply that from these sources, these late manuscripts, we can 
neve^ recover the words of the poet as they first flowed from 
his divine lips, I shall show laltT how gladly I acquiesce in 
this doctrine' (p. vi). Hut our manuscripts of Herodotus and 
Plato are of much the same date as our oldest Homeric manu- 
scripts. Herodotus and Plato we read * almost in their true 
splendour/ so why not Homer? Then the Alexandrian 
critics gave much labour to Homer ; probably our text is 
better than that on which they worked. The ancient authors 
who quote Homer quote him. on the whole, allowing for slips 
of memory, as we know him. 

wolf's studies 19 

Our criticism will hardly construct for us a better text 
than Plutarch and Longinus read and used. We shall 
never see the primitive form of the Homeric poems. We 
can only do our best with our materials, and Wolf has done 
his best in his new edition. Homer has hitherto been too 
negligently edited. His very lucidity has lulled the editors 
to a drowsy repose, save when they were roused by a stray 
various reading, or a casual scholium^ or a remark of 
Eustathius. The Italian editors had the Venetian manu- 
script of Villoison and the scholia at hand, but never used 

The various readings in ancient lexicographers have also 
been, on the whole, overlooked. Wolf now criticises the 
editions of Etienne and Barnes, and he thinks that the 
second Aldine editor and he of Rome did not use Eusta- 
thius studiously. Clarke was indolent, Ernestius deserved 
better of Homer ; but it is only in the last seven years, since 
1788, that we enjoy the wealth of Homeric lore provided in 
the edition of Villoison, the Venice manuscript with the 
ancient scholia. The Venice manuscript is * more valuable 
than all our other sources together,' though it includes 
much that is trivial, and does not offer much that we 

Villoison's edition, however, is a book which there are few 
to praise and very few to read. * Indeed, as we say now, the 
book is unreadableJ It must be mastered by hard labour. 
Much of old learning is lost, but much remains. We only 
have extracts from the famous Alexandrians, but these arc 

Wolf now traces an interesting picture of his own ex- 
haustive Homeric studies. He read, and re-read, and 
analysed Eustathius, the then known scholia, the old 
lexicographers, the ancient grammarians, and all classical 
literature in which he might hope to find a trace of the text 


h^' «?»2 


of Homer. Then the Venice scholia appeared, and all his 
work had to be done over again. But he did not regret his 
researches in the work of * that wordiest of men/ Eustathius, 
his labours in the collation of manuscripts and old 
editions, nor lament the years when 'ground he at grammar' 
in the ancient grammarians. It is easy, he says, to neglect 
and ridicule the minutiae of grammar, easy to discourse on 
the barbarity of Homer's age, or on myths, or on the 
opinions of Aristotle. But grammar is not to be contemned, 
at all events by those who have never taken the trouble to 
learn it. In linguistic research we enter, as it were, the 
honourable company of the ancient critics of Alexandria. 
In brief, Wolf thinks that his colossal industr)' has not been 
heavier than the nature of his work as an editor of Homer 
required. * Willingly have I toiled, whatever the value of my 
toil.' His object, as an editor, is to give a text that would 
.satisfy any ancient critic, who knew how to employ the 
commentaries of the Alexandrians. To exhibit the nature 
and difficulties of his task, he will give a brief histor}* of 
Homer's text. This he divides into six ages (p. xxii) : — 

1. Krom the origin of the lays, say 950 ]\.c. to the lime 
of Pisistratus (550 r..c.). 

2. From Pisistratus to Zenodotus, the early Alexandrine 

3. From Zenodotus to Apion, whose fame as an inter- 
preter of Homer Seneca attests. 

4. From Apion to Pori)hyr)', the disciple of Plotinus, an 
allegorising writer on Homer. 

5. From Porphyr)' to Demetrius Chalcondyles, editor of 
the first printed edition.' 

6. From 1488 to the end of the eighteenth century. 
Wolf next shows the Ixidness of the ordinary or vulgate 

text, by a series of examples. The ordinar)* text had its ortho- 

' Fl<»rcnce, 14S8, 



dox fanatics : even in classic times, Lucian asks Homer, 
in Hades, a question about the supposed interpolations. 
Homer answered that they were all his own. But surely no 
one would wish to preserve the solecisms and printer's or 
copyist's blunders. And there must be far greater depar- 
tures from a primitive text, for Hippocrates, Plato, and 
Aristotle quote whole verses of which not a trace remains 
in our copies, or in the scholia.* Wolf thinks that the 
famous edition *of the Casket' made by Aristotle for 
Alexander the Great never came into the hands of the 
Alexandrian critics, who make no quotations from it. But 
the Alexandrians must have had most of Aristotle's materials. 
Thus it is plain to Wolf that we have not before us even the 
text which Aristotle and Plato knew. And what relation to 
the primitive text had that with which Aristotle was ac- 
quainted ? Here, at last, Wolf comes to his point ; he tries 
to show that primitive text there was none, the [)oems were 
lays orally recited. His argument as to the trustworthiness 
of our text of Homer runs thus : — 

Trust it we may, unless these poems have endured 
peculiar corruptions, and borne far more and more serious 
alterations than others. But suppose that, judging by the very 
early appearance and popularity of Homeric emendation 
in Greece, the Greeks themselves lacked really genuine 
examples, whence he who would might make fresh copies. 
Suppose, again, that the earliest recensions, the efforts of 
criticism not yet perfected, differed often and widely from 
each other. Suppose that grammarians in the later and 
more learned Greece introduced a vulgate some time after 

' Wolf himself brought into the speech of Phoenix four new lines 
(Iliad, ix. 458-461 ) from Plutarch's tract, Dc Amiiithlis Poetis, These 
were in none of our extant manuscripts, nor named in the scholia. Who 
excised ihem? Plutarch says Aristarchus did, on account of the 
terrible * realism ' of Phoenix. Our text is, however, not that of 
Aristaxchas, but the vulgate common in his day. 


Aristotle. Suppose, again, that we have not even a iierfect 
example of the text of Aristarchus, which the ancients 
for long ver)' highly preferred, but only a text re-edited 
in the centuries immediately after our era, and restored 
according to the judgment of various critics, and after- 
wards covered with blemishes in the ages of increasing 
barbarism, may we not gather from all these considera- 
tions the idea which I have already promulgated, that the 
text of Homer is as to purity in a very different condition 
from those of Lucretius and Virgil ? As to the difference 
Ixitween the condition of the older texts of Homer and those 
of the Alexandrine critics, it is enough. to say in passing 
that in Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other authors of 
that time, we ran find, not only variations m single words, 
but even many remarkable verses of which no trace survives 
in Eustathius, nor in the oldest and most learned scholia. 

* So far 1 l)elieve I shall win the ready assent of all who 
have learned to trust their own eyes. But if the suspicion 
of some scholars is true, namely that the Homeric and 
other lays of those times were not written at all, but were 
first composed in the memory, and sung from memory by 
the fx)ets, that they were next carried abroad in song by the 
rhapsodists, whose business it was to learn them by rote, it 
necessarily follows that many alterations must have been 
made in the j)oems by accident or design. Then suppose 
that, as soon as they lx»gan to be written, they were thus 
full of different renderings, and next suffered many more 
changes from the rash conjectures of those who tried 
emulously to reduce the lays to their own idea of iK>lish 
and to bring them into conformity with the best laws of the 
art and style as then understood. Finally, suptx)se that the 
whole context and order of the two epics were not due to 
the genius who usually receives credit for it, but to the skill 
of a more lettered age and the combined efforts of many ; 


supix)se too that the very lays, out of which the Iliad and 
Odyssey were put together cannot be proved by probable 
argument to have had a single author — in short, suppose 
that on all these matters we must hold opinions very unlike 
the prevalent ideas, what then will be the labour of restoring 
to the songs their original splendour and genuine form ! * 

Wolf thus briefly sketches his doctrine. The Homeric 
poems were originally mere lays composed and handed 
down without the use of writing. Later they were com- 
mitted to writing, and in the process were combined by the 
editors into continuous wholes, and were also polished and 
emended in accordance with the taste of a more advanced 
age than that which gave them birth. Next they sufTeied 
many things of many editors, Alexandrine and Im[)erial, and, 
finally, ran the gauntlet of Byzantine scholarshii) and ot 
Byzantine ignorance. 

In advancing this theory, Wolf has to combat, he says, 
the opinion of antiquity, though not, as it will appear, of all 
antiquity. The question which meets us on the threshold, 
the question of early writing in Oreece, * has lately been 
brought forward, or rather revived.' This was done by 
Robert Wood, in his work An Essay on the Original 
Genius 0/ Homer (second edition, 1775). The Homeric 
lays show * much genius, less art, and no deep learning.' 
The art of the poems, noble as it is, is in a way nafitraL 
The lays differ as much from the native wood-notes wild of 
mere l)alladists as from the manner of poets in cultivated 
ages. They stand between the ballad and the learned 
epic, l>etween Chay Chase and the yEneid or Paradise Lost, 
as we may say. Wolf does not deny to Homer all know- 
ledge of writing, but only the habit of using it.*^ He does 
not regard appeals to the muse and to the memory as proofs 

' !*]>• xxxvi-xxxix. 

• • Non tarn cognitiunem liUcrarum qiiam usum cl facullaleni.' 1'. xliv. 




of want of writing. These might be traditional formulae. 
On Tile other hand, the word y/ia<^ir, meaning merely * to 
scratch/ d^^es not imply that writing was known. 

If we look for ancient evidence as to the origin of 
writing in Oreece, we find the subject veiled by the mists 
which conceal all such l)eginnings. The CJreeks did not 
practise the ctinparaiive method of studying analogous 
institutions in many different couiitries, of examining races 
widely severed, which are yet in the same stage of culture. 
They re^)osed on valueless myths about the earliest in- 
ventors. Modern authors have too hastily concluded that 
the introduction of letters and their general use must have 
been nearly simultaneous. No inquiry has been made into 
the degrees of advance, the modifications that must have 
existed. We must dismiss late and credulous legends about 
IMiemius, about Homer's schoolmaster, and the other fables 
of the so-called * Lives of Homer.' l^t us examine the 
reasons for holding that, even if letters were introduced to 
Cireece before Homefs day, there was almost no use made 
of them till the beginning of the Olympiads (776 r. c). That 
there was an introduction of l*h<.enician characters corre- 
sponding to what we gather from the myth of Cadmus, 
constant refx^rt and the form of the letters themselves 
declare. But the date is most uncertain. We have no 
information about the i>eriod when the Phtenicians Ix^gan 
to use writing, nor about the uses to >Yhich they applied it. 
Greek fables have darkened the whole topic. The Greeks 
delighted in tracing all origins to the remotest ages, and in 
attributing inventions to their own mythical heroes : as, to 
Proinetlieus, by -Kschylus ; to Palamedes, by Euripides ; to 
Cadmus, by Herodotus (v. 58), who gives it as his own 
opinion that previously letters were unknown to Greece. 
Sup[)osing that the art was soon used for brief inscriptions, 
that does not imply a large use of writing for long poems. 


Wolf surmises that Herodotus was deceived by the Theban 
heroic inscriptions on helmets and other votive offerings. 
The language and metre of these is clearly late.* Wolf 
detects in all these a * pious fraud' of the priests. The 
evidence of Herodotus only amounts to this : the art of 
writing was known so long before his time, and was so 
familiar, that it might be attributed to extreme antiquity. 
As for Cadmus, the myth of his invention of writing may 
merely indicate the time when a vague rumour of such an 
art was abroad ; after a long period would follow rude 
attempts to imitate it, and these, again, were succeeded by 
the general use of letters. 

Wolf lays great stress on the probable slowness of any 
])rogress in writing. The letters were foreign, they needed 
adapting to a new tongue, vowels and other characters had 
to be introduced. After this labour writing would be confined 
to brief inscriptions on hard materials. Lastly would come 
writing for literary purposes. Perhaps six centuries would 
be needed for the development of literary writing. There 
would Ihj a prejudice against copying out popular poetry, 
as if writing would deprive it of its life and spirit. *'' Wolf 
now turns to an argument from the assumed lack of writing 
materials in early Greece. Papyrus was not introduced till 
the sixth century u.c. He disbelieves in writing on leaves 
of trees or on potsherds. Stone, wood, and metal would be 
the earliest materials. These would only be used for public 
records. Wolf rejects I'ausanias's story of the very ancient 
copy of Hesiod's Works and Days on thin sheets of lead.^ 
The Greeks did not, like the Romans, write on linen 

' Wolf compares Pausanias, ix. ii. 

- The Ettrick Shepherd's mother urged thai Scott had ruined 
the Border Ballad!* by publishing them. 

• ix. 31, p. 771. Imprecations scratched on very thin sheets of 
lead are not uncommon. 


(libri iintei). The lonians introduced writing on skins. 
This Wolf regards as late, about 776 b.c., but gives no 
reason for his opinion (p. Ixii). He says there could be no 
volumes written on waxed tablets. The Ionic alphabet of 
twenty-four letters, itself late, was not adopted at Athens till 
403 iJ.c, before which the long vowels H and n were not 

The Ionian colonists in Asia Minor were probably the 
tirst to make general use of writing. The --Eolic and Ionic 
lyric ixKJts before Simonides and Epicharmus can scarcely 
have dispensed with the art. As to public documents, 
Zaleucus appears to have been the first who introduced 
written laws, al)out 664 u.c.''' The laws of Solon were 
written bousirophedon^ alternately from right to left and from 
left to right, on rude materials, about 594 n.c. Thus writing 
for literary purposes was proliably used earlier in Ionia and 
Magna Griecia than in continental Greece. Archilochus, 
Alcman, Pisander, could certainly write. But, as far as the 
writing of books in Greece generally is concerned, we can- 
not put the practice earlier than the [Xiriod of Thales, Solon, 
Pisistralus, and the commencements of prose composition. 
Taking Pherecydes Syrius and Cadmus of Miletus, contem- 
poraries of Pisistratus, as the earliest writers in prose, we 
may say that the making of books in Greece, and among the 
lonians, is not prior to their date. 

Homer may l>e said to prelude to prose composition, 
which, for lack of writing materials chiefly, was not evolved 
till three centuries later. (This would place the origins of 
the Homeric poems at)out 850 u.c.) 

Wolf now denies that any learned Greek critic regarded 

• His authorities arc Kphorus, Thco|»ompus, Andrun Ephesiu^, in 
Euscl). ChroH, ad Ol. xciv. 4 ; Cctlren. and Pasch. Chron. ad xcvi. 4, 
and scholium to P/urttisste^ 688. 

- Scymnus, Pcrieg, 313 ; Strabo,*vi. p. 259. 


the * baneful tokens ' of Prcetus as a letter. It must have 
Ijeen from the discussions of the Alexandrine learned that 
Josephus drew his famous statement, * I^te, and laboriously, 
did the (Jreeks acquire their knowledge of letters. . . . 
They say that even Homer did not leave his i)oetry in a 
written text, but that it was afterwards put together from 
oral recitations ; hence its many discrepancies.' ' 

Homer himself says nothing about writing. This argu- 
ment from silence may, of course, be abused. Other poets, ' 
who could write, have not mentioned writing. But Homer 
is full of pictures of the arts, and Hesiod dwells especially 
on the domestic arts. Of writing, neither has a word to say.'** 

Two Homeric passages have been supposed to refer to 
writing. The first is Iliad vii. 175 fT. In this the princes 
are casting lots. Each marks his own, they are thrown into 
a helmet, Nestor shakes it, a lot leaps out, the herald shows 
it to each prince, none recognises it for his own but Aias. 
He knows the €n\^^ or private mark, which he had scratched 
on his lot. This clearly does not mean writing. 

The other passage is vi. 168. Prcetus is in the position 
of Potiphar as regards his wife and Bellerophon. *To slay 
Bellerophon he forbore, but he sent him to Lycia, and gave 
him tokens of woe, graving in a folded tablet many deadly 
things, and bade him show these to Anteia's father, that he 
might be slain.' (Anteia was the wife of Prcetus ; her father 
was King of l.ycia.) Bellerophon goes to the Lycian king, 
and *on the tenth day the king questioned him, and asked 

' Contra Apion, i. 2. p. 439. 

- Neither poet alludes to signet rings, which recent discoveries 
prove to have lx:cn very common in very early times. The graves of 
Myccna: are rich in rings. Seals, again, being used as signatures by 
their owners, imply documents that had to be signed ; they can be used 
for other purposes, but in Assyria and Kgypt their first use was to 
stamp the owner's signature. 


to see what token he bore from his son-in-law Prcetus. 
Now when he had received of him Prtetus*s evil token, first 
he bade him slay Chimaera, the unconquerable.' Here the 
word cnJ/iaTo, * tokens/ suggests writing, as we hear of 

^oiriKUca OTjfiara KdSfiov. Then xtVaf tttvktos, * a folded 

tablet,' suggests a letter, and the word ypa<^€tr, to scratch, 
came to mean * to write.* But these suggestions are false. 
Eustathius was following Alexandrine authorities when he 
says, on this passage, that the very early Greeks used hiero- 
glyphs, much like the Egyptians.* The Venetian scholia (A) 
also declare that the rny/Acid were tl^oAa, not ypdfifiara ; it 
was picture-writing, not alphabetic writing. This, Wolf says, 
is the right Alexandrine interpretation, though Plutarch 
' chatters ' about the * letter ' of Bellerophon. The Alex- 
andrine critics were probably led to this opinion by the 
word Sctfoi, to * show ' the token. No Greek or l^tin i)oet 
could talk of s/unvin;^ a letter.- Wolf will listen to no argu- 
ment on the other side. Is it not better to adopt the inter- 
]»retation of the ancients (in Eustathius and scholia A) than 
to twist and i>ervert the language of Homer ? The folded 
tablet was no letter, but a wooden tessera or symbolum^ 
with deadly marks (whatever they may be) rudely incised.** 
Wolf thinks kinsfolk had secret marks, which they under- 
stood and sent to each other. He quotes a French author, 
who has * these most facetious observations : ' * If this was 
really a written letter, it is odd that so useful and well known 
an invention should have disapix:ared two generations later, 
when its employment would have been otherwise important. 

* This would prove nothing in Wolfs favour. Books of any length 
might be written in hieroglyphs ; or even, perhaps, in picture-writing, 
cf5«-A<£ Tira. 

- \Ve, however, talk of proilucing, presenting, or displaying cre- 

' Schol. .V. To * write ' L* to engrave ; he engraved images 


Was it only good for letters of introduction that tended to 
get people devoured by the Chimaera ? ' 

So Homer never mentions writing. But how, we may 
he asked, was the composition of the epics possible without 
writing ? Rousseau conjectures that the letter of Bellerophon 
was interpolated by the compilers of Homer. *The Odyssey 
is a tissue of silly absurdities, which a letter or two would 
have dispelled in smoke, if we suppose that the heroes could 
write. Homer did not ^Tite, he sang ; had the Iliad been 
written, it would have been much less recited/ * 

Wolf is brought to consider the question of rhapsodes, 
or reciters, because, if there was no writing, the poems can 
only have been preserved by oral recitation. It is, therefore, 
most imi)ortant to understand how they were handled by 
reciters, whether pains were taken to keep them in their 
pristine state, or whether there was much licence of inter- 
pohtion, addition, and alteration in general. Wolfs main 
idea is that the Homeric age was young, buoyant, mitural^ 
indifferent to *a paper immortality.' 'I'hen he seems 
occasionally to regard the original lays as on a footing with 
VolksUedery popular oral songs, concerning which nobody 
asks *who composed them?' This attitude of mind was 
natural in a j^eriod influenced by Rousseau, and by the first 
researches into popular ix)elry. The original Ijards would 
be content with the praises of their audiences, and Wolf 
does not regard the Homeric minstrels, Phemius and Demo- 
docus, as on a footing with the late reciter in the lo of Plato. 
The world hardly understands, he says, that we really owe 
Homer to the rhapsodes, who are, however, not to be con- 
founded with the paid professional reciters of Plato's time 
(p.. xcvi). Nor did the rhapsodes, though their name l)e 
derived from * stitching' or weaving songs, compile mere 

* Wolf quotes Rousseau, from his collected works, xvi. 240 (Cleneva, 


centos out of Homer. Nor were rhapsodes like the * blind 
crowders' and ballad singers of modem life. Recitation 
was every ancient poet*s only mode of reaching his public. 
The Homeric poems, however, were recited more than all 
others. * Many testimonies confirm the fact that there was 
a kind of family (or guild) of Homeridje, exercising their 
art, first at Chios, aftenn-ards elsewhere ' (p. xcviii). These 
Homeridae were not a clan of descent from Homer, or 
if ever there was such a clan, the name was transferred to 
reciters, interpreters, and admirers of Homer.* 

The name Rhapsode is later than Homer. The profes- 
sion in his time was much more distinguished than in subse- 
quent ages. The less education there was, the more 
illustrious were the reciters. The reciters originally 
chanted their own poems, and even till the time of Cyna^thus 
(69th Olympiad, l>eginning of the fifth century), ever\- 
rhapsode was likely to \ye himself a poet (p. xcix). 

In the Homeric age, the minstreFs was a distinct profes- 
sion, whether the [X)et stayed at a prince's court or went 
about to festivals, being dear to the Clods and honoural)le 
among men. 'The life and position of the rhapsodes was 
the same,' till, in the changes of society, they became mere 
mercenar}' entertainers (p. xcix). Did they recite from written 
books, and, if not, how did they learn their lays ? Doubt- 
less they used memory alone, and, even in the days of 
Socrates, did not read from a book. There is nothing to 
marvel at in their memory, a professional menior}-, carefully 
cultivated. Their sole business was to make [X)ems, or 
learn and recite the poems of others (p. cii). One rhapsode 
would carefully instruct another. As much is even now 
committed to memor)-, for example, by actors : as great 
feats of memory are possible. 

' The {wssages on the IlomeridiTC in Stralx>, Pincbr, and the scholia, 
Ilarpocration and his authorities, .Klian, and others will be later 


Wolf thinks that, granting proper instruction, the Homeric 
poems need not have been at once deformed and altered, 
even though they were unwritten. However, even the 
ancients saw that recitation had been a source of various 
readings (p. cv). He relies on Josephus, as, in his opinion, 
giving the view of the Alexandrine critics.^ Wolf proceeds in- 
consistently, after saying that the poems would not be altered 
in recitation, to show that they would be corrupted, that 
they would suffer from excisions, additions, alterations (p. cv). 
Many rhapsodes would venture on improvements of their 
own, and would insert fresh material. Their object would 
be to please their audience, not to preserve the lays. The 
family of Cynajthus is especially accused of taking these 

The Homeric hymns. Wolf thinks, represent what the 
rhapsodes were likely to compose, with no intention of 
literary imposture. 

After all this disquisition on rhapsodes, whose memory 
and fancy alone preserved Homeric poetry l)efore writing 
was used, Wolf declares that, without writing, no genius 
could have composed the epics as 7ve Nmv possess them. 
Nor would it have ixiid him to compose the epics if he had 
been able to do so. They would have been like huge ships 
built inland, and in no way to be launched. If he could 
not be read, the poet's epics, as we possess them, would 
have l>een worthless to him. Nobody could hear them out 
at a sitting, nobody could read them ; so the idea of making 
them could never have occurred to him (j). cxii). 

Hence the poem * came otherwise,' not by the art of one 
ancient minstrel. 

Here Wolf meets objections naturally raised by the unity 

' Coitira Apion. i. 2. p. 439 : * They say that even Homer did not 
leave his poetry in writing ; hence its many discrepancies.* 
« Schol. Pind. Nem, ii. 


of plot and character in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Is that 
unity so perfect in each poem as it is thought to be ? I'hc 
discussion delays his argument, which ought at this point 
to have shown hmv the poems came into their present 
shape if they were not composed by one author. We must 
remember that he will return to this problem, and must 
follow him into the digression, whither, as Socrates says, the 
Aoyo? leads him. AVolf will leave to others, he says, the 
difficulties which the manellous beauty and structure 
of the epics can be made to yield. It is not enough to 
admire the artistic character of the two poems as we possess 
them, the simplicity of the action, so conspicuous in such a 
mass of varied detail, the choice of one chief event and one 
hero from the whole stor)' of the Trojan war, the skilled 
addition of ornament ; how all in one poem bears on the 
wrath of Achilles, all in the other on the return of Odysseus. 
Many of these qualities undeniably merit just praise, espe- 
cially in the case of the Odyssey, the * admirable composi- 
tion of which is to l)c reckoned the proudest monument of 
the Greek genius.' As to the Iliad, the learned still dispute 
about its original argument and chief motive. The difficulty 
is that the irf^KKH^ai^, or statement of the topic in the 
prelude, does not demand the unfolding of all that the 
Iliad contains, if the Iliad is only to tell of the wrath of 
Achilles and its results. A few Ixittles, just to show how the 
(ireeks fared without Achilles, would be enough. The 
promise made by the seven verses of prelude might easily 
be fulfilled in eighteen rhapsodies. The rest of the poem 
is a mere appendix to the storj^ of the wrath. Indeed, the 
topic of the poem as it now stands is not the 7vrathy but 
the ^lory of Achilles. Wolf kindly offers four verses of 
prelude of his own composition, which he thinks would^lie 
more appropriate than the actual prologue (p. cxviii). They 
might readily be recognised as the work of a Clennan rhapsode. 


Sing of \hQ glory y (jocldcss, of Achilles, son of IVlcus, 

Who while he lay by the ships in wralh with the king, Agamemnon, 

Brought on the Greeks and himself griefs mnnifold, but when he robC 

Woes did he bring on the Trojan array anrl on knightly Hector.* 

Wolf thinks it may l)c no efTcct uf art, but of nature, that 
one episode in the war was capable of Ix'ing produced in an 
harmonious i)oem. * Do you suppose, ' he asks, * that the 
poem would have come out very different from what it is, 
if not one poet but four had woven the web ? ' {Jelam de- 
Uxuissent) (p. cxx). The structure of the Odyssey could not 
be the work of a wandering minstrel. The several parts, 
however, may have been separately made and sung long 
V>efore some one, in a more polished age, observed that by a 
few changes, omissions, and additions, all might be brought 
into a complete and perfect shape, to be a new and more 
splendid and perfect Hterary monument (p. cxxi). The 
opinion of Aristotle, to be sure, is adverse ; but by Aristotle's 
time their unity had been given to the poems. 

Thus the comjKJsition of the poems is not an argument 
against Wolfs theory. Tiiat composition is the art of a 
later and more polished age, not the work of an illiterate 
early minstrel. And the composition is not really such a 
marvel of excellence as has been supposed. 

Wolf now examines the so-called Cyclic poems, in their 
bearing on this question of composition. The Epic Cycle 
was a lx)dy of poems by various authors, including the Iliad 
and Odyssey, later arranged into a chronological order, 
from the Hesiodic marriage of Heaven and Harth to the 
slaying of Odysseus by Telcgonus. It is first mentioned as 

' This question of the promise of the prelude still plays a great part 
in disint(^rating criticism. On the oihcr >idc, who would detach from 
Parodist LoslvW the passngci which are not even distantly hinted at by 
Milton in his prelude ? 



the Epic Cycle by Proclus (circ. 140 a.ix) in his Handbook 
of Literature. Here he gives short prose summaries of the 
jx)ems in the Cycle. They were such works as the Cypria 
attributed to Stasinus, al)out 776 u.c, the Little I/iady the 
^EthhpiSy and other poems of from 776 to 560 n.c. 

The little we know of the Cyclic poems, says \\'olf, 
proves that they lacked the ver)- qualities of unity and com- 
position which are admired in Homer. "^I'hey have some- 
times a hero, but usually no central motive, nor primary action 
interwoven with episodes. This is the evidence of Aristotle 
himself, in the Poetics, Wolf argues that, if the Cyclic 
poets had known our Homer and his art in composition, 
they must have appreciated and imitated it. But they did 
not do so ; therefore they are earlier than our Homer : they 
did not know our Homer (p. cxxvii). 

Wolf now gives examples of jxissages in the poems intro- 
duced bv later hands, to effect a transition. One is Iliad 
xviii. 356 368, where many of the lines also occur in other 
parts of the poem. This was suspected in ancient times by 
Zenodorus, of whom nothing is known. The lines, Wolf 
thinks, were inserted by his early diaskeuast (interpolator 
or corrupter) to bridge over the interval between two rhap- 
sodies. Another instance he finds in Odyssey iv. 620. 

The Iliad and Odyssey, then, are a congeries of atoms, 
but not a fortuitous congeries (p. cxxxiv). Many ages, 
many minds supphed the junctions, and imposed the 
unity. They added whole rhapsodies in which Homer had 
no part. For example, the original character of the Odyssey, 
from xxiii. 297 to the end was doubted by Aristarchus, and 
Aristophanes of Byzantium. There is also dispute about the 
last book of the Iliad. Wolf himself has always doulus 
about the last six books of the Iliad. He has a feeling 
that the style is different, though he will not advance his 
feeling as an argument. There are unusual words and 


phrabes, there is a want of Homeric spirit and vigour, there 
is an abundance of prodigies.' 

Wolf nrxt examines the little that the (ireeks have re- 
ported about the early history of the poems. 

First he refers to the story that I.ycurgus brought the 
epics from Ionia into the Peloponnesus.' According to 
lleraclides, the poems were obtained from the descendants 
of the mythical Creophylus, in whose family, says Plutarch, 
they were committed to writing. In all this. Wolf recognises 
no more than the Spartans' [)revious lark of knowledge, or 
scanty knowledge, of the lays, .\fterwards they held Homer 
in high honour. The next historical reference is to the 
regulation of Solon about the recitation of the poems at 
the Panathenxa. The evidence is in Diogenes Laertius 
('• 57)» where the cpiestion occurs with reference to the 
verses 557-55«S in the catalogue of the ships. The Mega- 
rians had one version of these, the Athenians had another ; 
both parties based on their versions their claims to the 
isle of Salamis. The lines are : * Aias from Salamis led 
twelve ships, and stationed them by the companies of the 
Athenians.' This was the Athenian reading ; the Mega- 
rims read : *Aias fiom Salamis led his ships, and from 
Polichne, and Ageiroussa, and Nisaia, and Tri[)odi.''* It 
i>. in connection with the question, \\'ere the Athenian 
lines an interjx)lation ? that Diogenes tells us about Solon : 
rd Tc 'O/AT/pou i$ U7ro/:^o\»/s yiypaffx. pa{j/wS€UTOaiy oloi/ 

' The darkening of the omens or prtxligies al.^u mark'; the close of 
the Odyssey, and, as we note later, of YVit' Bride of Lamnicnfioor^ where 
the character of the romance is greatly heightened by this artifice. 
The opinion of Shelley was that, in the last l)ouk.s uf the Iliad, Homer 
really * begins to be himself. ' 

* Authorities : — lleraclides Ponticiis, UtpX UoKiruwv^ in Cinm. 
77us, A A. GG. I. vi. p. 2823 li ; Dio Chrysobt., Or. ii. p. 87; 
Kciske, Pim. in /.yturjo, p. 41 D ; .Elian. K //. xiii. 14. 

* Stiabo, ix. 394. 



OVOV 6 TT/MOTOS l\lf$€l', €K€W€V ap^^ttrOai TOV €)(OfA€VOV ' /JLoXXoV 

ovv "^oXwv ''Ofirjpov €<fMOTur€v rf llcio-toTfxiTos- here follows 
a corrui)t passage, a blank — ws <fnf(ri Aitv^iSas iv c' 


The Dicuchidas quoted was a Megarian historian. The 
|vissage asserts that Solon * wrote a law by which Homer 
was to l>e recited 7C'it/i prompting:!; [or in regular order] so 
that where the first reciter left off, the next should begin/ 
'I'hen follows the remark, apparently from Dieurhidas, that 
* Solon did more for Homer than Pisistratus.' ' Wolf avers 
that what Solon actually ordained is rendered obscure bv 
the brevity of Diogenes l^ertius. He believes that Solon 
caused the cantos to be rcx:ited in order -that is, in sequence 
of events. The phrase €^ viroPoKys he renders *ita ut alius 
alii succederet,' one following the other orderly (j). cxli). 
Thus cf i'7ro/S(}\ijs is equivalent to c^ V7r(»\yil/€U)S, the 
term in the Platonic dialogue, the Hippunhiis (228 r.), by 
which the Homeric reform attributed to Hipparchus is de- 
scribed. On the other hand, the translation * with prompt- 
ini; * has the approval of Mr. Monro and others. Prompting 
seems to imply a ' prompter's bonk,' a written text, and is 
thus not in accordance with the theory of Wolf.'- Wolf 
holds that no written text was used at the Athenian recita- 
tions of Solon's time. In Ionia, he thinks, the poems must 

' The corrupt i>a.ssaj;c is rcslorcd by Kilschl thus : o(nr«p (rvAAc'^as 
la 'OyA\^*ov iyfwuirjai tii o ctv tijv 'ABrivaioffv xapi*", which makes Dicuchidas 
allege ihal risislralu--^ coUecleil and inler|H»hiled the llonieric poems. 

- Mr. Iehl)>.iy.>: *The (.mly c|ueslion is wliether it [#^ wro^oA^j] 
means ** fnun an aulhurised. text," ur '*\\ilh promplinj;,'' each reciter 
having his projK-r cue given to him' ;//'///<•/% p. 77. note 3). In the 
Corpus litsii iptiominty ii. p. 67O, lioeckh defends the opinions t»( 
Wolf at great length against Nitzsch. A pai>age \\here the phra>e 
m-jan;* 'with prompting' is quoted from Polemon, in Macrobius, Sat, 
V. 19, by r>.iac Ca.'.auli«»n, but InKcKh >upp<»rti the .en-e itiiii/en 
a'ttriui oraitOiUJUf to lake up the matter ^here another left oH. 

nsiSTRATUS 37 

already have l)cen recited in an orderly manner. In Ionia, 
too, the use of writing must have already existed in the age 
of Solon, at least in its/r////^ tenia mina. 

Leaving Solon, Wolf declares that he need no longer 
trust to conjecture (|). cxlii). * History speaks. The voice of 
all antifjuity, and, on the whole, the consent of all report hears 
witness that Pisistratiis was fhe first 7vho had the Homeric 
poems committed to writin^^ and l)rou^^ht into that order in 
which we now possess them' 

This may he called the key to Wolfs position, ahd it 
has l)een most eagerly assaulted. If the Homeric poems 
were not even written out till the age of Pisistratus, if they 
did not exist nearly in their present order till that ej)0(h, we 
must allow for a gap between their first composition and 
their complete form, in which there is room for any amount 
of changes. Wolfs evidence for his very sweeping assertion 
is stated thus : 

* Cicero, Pausanias, and all the others who mention the 
matter, put it forth in almost the same words, and as a 
thing universally known.' Cicero's remark is in his /A* 
Oratore, iii. 34. * Who was more learned in these times 
than l*isistratus, or whose ekKjuence was better instructed 
in literature than his who is said to have been the first to 
have arranged, in their i)resent order, the />oohs of Homer, 
previously in disarray?' Next we have Pausanias (vii. 26, p. 
594) : * Pisistratus collected the Homeric [xxmiis whi< h were 
dispersed, and known in memory, in various (|unrlcrs.' 
Then comes the familiar (juolation from Joscphus {C. Apion, 
i. 2) : *They say that even Homer did not leave his poetry 
in writing, but that it was transmitted by memory and after- 
wards put together from the separate songs' 'that is, 
by Pisistratus,' adds Wolf * hence the nmiiber of discrepan- 
cies which it presents.' .Mlian, Suidas, and other late 
authorities are then cited. Finally, an anonymous author, 


cited in Allatius, De Patria JFfomen\ quotes an epigram on a 
statue of Pisistratus : ' Thrice held I the tyranny, and as 
often did the people of the Erechtheidae expel me, and 
again call me back, me, Pisistratus, great in councils, who 
collected Homer, that In^fore was sung in scattered fashion. 
For the golden iK>et was our citizen since we Athenians 
colonised Smyrna/ 

This is Wolf's evidence for his statement that Pisistratus 
first had Homer committed to writing, and introduced 
sequence and unity into scattered lays. He utterly rejects 
the idea that Pisistratus collected, not oral rhapsodies, but 
scattered manuscripts, and that he merely restored, and did 
not make, the unity of the epics. The tradition which 
assigns a library to Pisistratus — a late tradition ' — may hQ so 
far true that the tyrant had some copies of Homeric and 
other iK)etry — written out, probably, by his desire. As in- 
dications of the truth of his doctrine, Wolf quotes the 
iwssage in Eustathius, according to which the Tenth Book 
of the Iliad was composed by Homer as a separate piece, 
and added by Pisistratus to the general collection. Eusta- 
thius gives this on the authority of * the ancients,' whoever 
they may have iK^en. \\'olf next touches on the absurd 
statements of mediceval grammarians, according to which 
fire and earthquake had made havo<' of the fex/s of Homer, 
whereon I^isistratus, offering rewards to all who could recite 
fragments, had the whole reconstmcted. Seventy- two gram- 
marians were employed in the task, a reflection of the legend 
aljout the Septuagint, and /enodotus and Aristarrhus pre- 
sided over the lalviur. This is the mere babble of Byzan- 

tme Ignorance. 

Much as Pisistratus did. Wolf does not think that he did 
everything and constructed Homer as we now possess him. 
After I'isisiratus, Ixnween Pisistratus and the Alexandrians, 

' Aulus GclHus, vi. 17, 


came the Diaskeuasts, to whose labours much is attributed. 
The Venetian scholia show that the Alexandrians attributed 
to the Diaskeuasts various interpolations. The Diaskeuasts, 
then, Wolf regards as exactores vel politores^ of Pisistratus's 
time or somewhat later (p. clii). 

As to the authorities w^hich assign Homeric labours to 
Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus, Wolf imagines that he colla- 
borated with his father.* Wolf inclines to hold that Orpheus 
of Croton, the author of the Argonauh'ca, Onomacritus 
the forger, Simonides, and Anacreon, all, or some of them, 
may have aided Pisistratus. The task of Pisistratus is com- 
pared by Wolf to the collection of ancient lays by Charle- 
magne, and to the Divan of the Arabs, put together in the 
seventh century. We do not possess the collections of 
Charlemagne, and the other example will not be asserted to 
resemble the epic unity of the Iliad and Odyssey (p. clvi). 

The next step was the removal of certain poems from 
the Homeric cycle. Herodotus (ii. 117, iv. 32) disbelieved in 
the Homeric authorship of the Cypria and Epigoni : the 
HymnSy also, were matter of doubt. The * Chorizontes,' who 
ascribed Iliad and Odyssey to different authors, also pro- 
duced what Seneca thought a vain matter of discussion. - 

Wolf next examines the age between Pisistratus and 
Zenodotus, the Alexandrian critics, * on which we have not 
much more light than on that which preceded it.' Till the 
age of Pericles, Wolf thinks that reading and writing were 

' The authr>rily is the Plalonic dialogue IlippanhiiSy 228 B, 
where we read thai Hip|iarchus first brought Homer into this land, 
and compelled the reciters at the Panathenaea to chant the jxjems ^{ 
viroX^fwf ^♦f^^S ' successively, in regular order,' as they now do to 
this day. The statement, taken with the other tradition about Solon, 
really c<»ntradicts, and does by no means confirm, the legends about 

* De Brevitate Vitct^ c. 13. The Chorizontes are frequently re- 
ferred to in the Venetian scholia. 


rare and difficult, and that Homer was l)est known in recita- 
tions. Al)out the time of the death of Pisistratus, the early 
philosophers advanced allegorical interpretations of Homer. 
They could not l)ear the literal sense of his stories al)out 
the Gods and, as usual in such cases, sought for symbolical 


Theagenes of Rhegium, Anaxagoras of Clazomcna?, 
Metrodorus of I^mpsacus, Stcsimhrotus of 'I'hasos, and 
other such interpreters, are mentioned. Others, like Xeno- 
phanes, frankly accused Homer of blasphemy, and are 
followed by Plato. Hippias of Thasos introduced a con- 
jectural emendation in one place, to clear the character of 
/eus.* 'I'hese and similar facts lead Wolf to consider the 
growth of Homeric criticism in Cireece. When once a few 
written texts had been made, various readings derived from 
recitation, or corruj)ted in transcribing, were sure to creep 
in. The original Pisistratean manuscript, if there were a 
complete manuscript, would l>ecome the lake whence various 
rivulets flowed. Whoever made a new copy would find the 
advantage of comjxiring older texts. The new amateurs 
would omit what they disliked, would add what they thought 
worthy (p. clxxii). 'Hiere would be no critical severity of 
judgment as we understand criticism. All taste would l>e 
* aesthetic ' rather than * critical,' relying on jxietic feeling 
rather than on documentary authority. Of the early copies 
wh'ch Wolf supjjoses to have been thus casually constructed, 
we hear of several. One was named from Antimachus of 
Colophon, the poet ; another from .Aristotle. The scholiasts 
call such copies al kut ui'^/>a as distinguished from civic 

' Iliad, ii. 15. The text i'i Tt*w€aiTi 5* ichBt' ^</>f/Tioi. * With 
Jesuitical art ' lIippi;Ls rea«l SiBu^ifv 8f 01 kvSos aptadai, ' Tlie chani^e 
of an accent (^t^ifity fur Siiofitv^ throws the hianie from Zcu^ on to 
Sleep. This ///.f/.» of an llnnuric problem l»y Hippias is tpioted hy 
Aristotle (/Wr. 25) (p. clwiii . 


copies, at icaTtt TToAfi?, as of Marseilles, and Sinope, (Jhios, 
Argos, Cyprus, and Crete. We know not whether they were 
prepared by command of the states, nor by whom, nor in 
what age. Probably they were collected by the IHolemics 
in Alexandria. The names, Chian, Massiliot, and so on, 
would be given to the manuscripts by the Alexandrian 
librarians. Wolf does not believe that the civic editions had 
l)een made by the order of the several states. The real 
purification and present condition of the ix)cms arc derived 
from Alexandria, a filter, as it were, of the various waters. 

W^e now reach the Alexandrian age of libraries and of 
comparative criticism, the age of Zenodotus, Aristoi)hancs, 
Aristarchus and Crates. 'I'he eldest is Zenodotus, who 
objected to so many passages that he may seem to banish 
Homer out of Homer's poems. His was an eager and 
violent kind of criticism, as was natural in the dawn of 
critical science. Next came Aristophanes, the inventor of 
the signs of accents. He has more learning and more 
modesty than Zenodotus. Then we reach Aristarchus, the 
greatest of critical names, whose work is mainly known to 
us by mere citations in the Venetian scholia. Wolf main- 
tains that Aristarchus was devoted to improving Homer, as 
we may say, and thought that genuine which seemed most 
worthy of his author. ' In quo nemo non vidot, onmia 
denique ad Alexandrinorum ingenium et arbitrium redire ' 
(p. ccxxxvi). Our Homer, then, is Homer as the Alexr.ndrines 
thought he ought to be. The scantiness of our evidence 
makes it impossible for us to reconstruct even the shortest 
canto of the Iliad exactly to the mind of Aristarchus. We 
know not what novelty he may have introduced ; what re- 
s|>ect he showed to old texts, or how he used the editions of 
Zenodotus and Aristophanes. His own text swallowed the 
older ones, as Aaron's rod swallowed the rods of the magicians. 
We cannot say what they were like. About Aristarchus as 


an interpreter of Homer, we arc only certain that he dis- 
approved of the symbolical and allegorical methods. He 
placed his critical sign, the obelus, not so much against 
the verses which he did not think were Homer's, as against 
those which he held unworthy of Homer. *Not what 
Homer sang, but what he should have sung' was his chief 
concern. I^ssing and Wieland would change or excise 
many parts of Shaksi)eare, as unworthy, if they were critics 
in the Greek manner. Aristarchus not only put his mark 
against passages, but he took many passages clean out.* 
We know not what test or standard he used in these opera- 
tions. * He not only marked blemishes, but he cut and 
cauterised ; and he set the portions which he thought were 
dislocated, and so emended Homer.' The four lines in 
which Phccnix says that he thought of killing his father,^ 
were taken wholly out by Aristarchus. •"* Finally, * Our 
Homer is not thit which lived in the mouths of his 
Greeks, but Homer as he was changed, interpolated, 
reduced, and emended, between the times of Solon and 
those of the Alexandrians. . . . The united voices of all 
ages attest it, and History speaks. Vet our |K)et refutes his- 
tor)', as it were, and the feeling of his readers testifies against 
it. Nor indeed are the lays so defaced and transformed, 
as, in separate matters, to seem too unlike their original 
estate. Nay, almost all in them agrees in the same genius, 
the same manners, the same method of thought and s|>eech. 

* Iliad, x. 397, j«:hoIion. Sec I-,ears note, which puts another 
complexion on the matter. *Ammonios is state«l to have said thai 
Aristarchus first marke«l the lines with arty^ai - apparently a sign of 
hesitation and afterwards ojielisetl ihcm.' 

- i\. 45S. 

' Wolf himself restoreil thtyn from Plutarch, /V .-IttJ. /W.'/V, 8. 
riutarch tt-lls us thai Aristarchus e\ciseil them. 1^ Kuche says that 
the lines nmst have l)een expurgated l>efore,-as our lexis represent the 
Alexandrian vulgate, not Arisiarchus's recension thereof. 

wolf's CONCLTTSION 43 

This everyone feels who reads them closely and with in- 
telligence. The contrast is to be felt, with its causes, in 
reading Apollonius Rhodius, the other Alexandrine poets, 
and Quintus Smyrnreus, commonly thought the very image 
of Homer. What if we owe the restoration of this won- 
derful harmony to the elegant intellc(*t and erudition of 
Aristarchus? . . . What if Aristarchus and Aristophanes, 
by dint of comparing all relics of antiquity, grew learned 
in the true language and proper form of ancient utterance,' 
and so restored Homer (p. cdxv) ? 

This rather wild hypothesis. Wolf admits, cannot be 
demonstrated, for lack of material. 

Here we may end, though Wolf adds some remarks on 
the obelus of Aristarchus, and on Crates. His main argu- 
ment is, that the Homeric poems, Iiowever much of them 
may have l)een composed by a single ancient minstrel, were 
but scattered cantos, living in the mouths of men, till 
Pisistratus l>egan the work of committing them to manu- 
script. They were diversely handled, till the age of the 
Alexandrians, when the undeniable harmony which they 
exhibit was imjKJsed on them by the learning and taste of 
Aristophanes and Aristarchus. 



It is no reproach to Wolf that ahuost all his arguments may 
now Ik? traversed. Time and fresh discoveries have greatly 
increased our knowledge of prehistoric Cireek life. The 
comparative method, too, which he applauded rather than 
practised, now enables us to compare with Homer the oral 
or inscribed literature of many races in states of civilisation 
analogous to that of early Cireece. These researches, 
indeed, yield no certain proofs, but they raise the presump- 
tion that many of Wolfs ^7 priori opinions about writing, 
and the time required for its development and application 
to literary purposes, are prolxably incorrect. Of all his 
elal)orate system little remains fixed, except the strong 
likelihood that our Homeric jx)ems are not, word for word, 
the i)oemsasthey flowed from the lips of the original author. 
It is not t«) l)e denied that some passages bear many marks 
of inteqK)lation, while it is likely enough that other parts 
have l)een lost. The problem now is : which |xissages are 
to be regarded as original, which are of later date ; at what 
jxjriod are they likely to have l)een inserted, by whom was 
this done, for what purposes, and, above all, how did the 
various inteqiolations gain general acceptation in ClreiHre .^ 
Many of these problems can never l)e solved. While letter* 
endure we shall have the Homerit: question with us. In 


this essay, ihc general theory is highly conservative, and 
attempts will he made to disprove many of the arguments 
in favour of frequent interpolations by many hands and at 
many various dates. It is admitted, however, that the 
I)oems, exactly as they were fashioned by the original 
author— without loss or addition of jot or tittle— cannot 
ixjssibly be restored. 

Coming to discuss Wolfs theory, we first examine his 
l)eliefs alxjut early writing in (Ireece. Some vague early 
knowledge of the i)ossibilities inherent in written cha- 
racters, Wolf does not diredly deny. ^^'hal he dues 
say is that even when the old (ireeks came into contact 
with the art of writing, they would be very slow in 
acquiring it ; the IMicenician charat lers would demand 
changes which could only be made in a tardy evolution 
lasting for ages. Again, the scantiness and inadequate 
character of writing materials, before (Ireece obtained 
papyrus from Kgyi)t, would delay the development of the 
art. For long, letters would be used for mere inscriptions 
on stone and wood, not for the preservation of literary 
documents. Perhaps six centuries would elapse between 
the time when the (Ireeks became acquainted with the 
foreign use of written letters and the time when they could 
apply them to literary uses, in the age of Pisistratus say 
560 i:.r. Thus some Greeks may have had some knowledge 
of written characters in 1120 u.c. Vet these characters 
were not employed as aids to composition and literary 
memory till about 750 550 i;.c. 

These reasonings are frankly a priori ixwiX rest on Wolf's 
notions of probability. Analogy clearly tends to suggest 
that he is wrong. An intelligent African, after becoming 
familiar with our alphabet, invented (he said, in a dream) a 
new and complicated one to suit the needr^ of his native 
language. No one can bUpi)ose that Ciieeks would be 


slower by several hundred years than negroes, in their menial 

As to materials again, the case against Wolf is particularly 
strong. The Greeks had l>een, as we are now told by 
archaeologists, for uncounted centuiies in close connec- 
tion with Egypt* They had every opportunity of seeing and 
ol)t;iining jKipyrus if they chose to do so. Even if they did 
not choose, the absence of what we now consider suitable 
writing materials never yet delayed the art of writing when 
once known. 'I'he Aztecs, like the old lonians, according 
to Herodotus, wrote or [tainted numerous documents on 
the skins of beasts. 

The Creek Indians were in a much more backward condi- 
tion than the .\ztecs. Vet the * Kasi'hta Migration 1 Augend ' 
was inscribed on a buffalo skin, and handed to Governor Ogle- 
thorpe in 1735, by Tchikilli. According to the Ameriian 
Uti:^tUer of 1762, the legend was * curiously written in red 
and black characters on the skin of a young buffalo.* The 
said skin was set in a frame, and hung up in the Georgia 
ofHce in Westnn'nsler. The legend contained some fifteen 
hundred words. The skin, unhap|)ily, is lost ; nor do we 
know in what kind of characters it was inscriJK^d. If it were 
in picture writing of any sort, the fact would be interesting ; 
if it were in our alphabet, this would prove that a compara- 
tively l)arlxirous i>eople could and did learn to use writing 
for literary purposes much more rapidly than Wolf thinks 
probable in the case of the (ireeks.- 

That the Ojibbeways used picture wTiting to record on 

birch bark, not only their cosmogonic legends, but even 

brief lyrics, we !earn from Kohl.^ Analogy thus indicates 

• Flinders Pet ric,y<v//7/<f/<y//c"//t7//V S/Uii/ts, 1S90-91. 

- Gatschct's Mi^ratioit I^\i;ttiJ. lirinion : riiiladclphin. 18S4, p. 

•* Xiu/ii Gai/ii, where example^ are i;iven, reproduced in Cus:om and 
Myih, p. 292. 


that even very backward peoples, with very scanty ai)- 
plianccs, may use these for literary purposes, and it seems 
improbable that the Greeks would be less apt than the 
Creeks. As lor materials, writing has been impressed or 
inscribed on cakes of clay, as in Assyria ; on leaves of trees, 
as in Burmah ; on bones, as in Arabia ; on tablets of wood, 
as in Greece ; on fragments of pottery, on plates of metal, 
on Scandinavian staves, on everything. 

There is no reason why Pausanias should not have seen 
at Ascra, as he tells us that he did, if not the original copy 
of Hesiod, at least an extremely ancient copy, etched on thin 
and mouldering plates of lead. The magical imprecations 
scratched on very thin slices of lead, in our museums, show 
us what this manuscript was probably like. 

It is certain, from Homer, from tradition, and from 
remains of works of art, that Greece, in very early times, was 
in close contact with Phcenicia and Kgypt. It is certain 
that the Phoenicians had early evolved, probably out of 
Egyptian hieratic characters, an ali)habet. To say that 
Greeks would need many centuries to make this ai|)hal)ct 
serve their purposes, and wou id then be hamjiered by lack 
of writing material, is to make Greeks more stujnd and slow 
than most races. VVe must not make too much of the 
absence of inscriptions, for example, on the graves at 
Mycenx. As has been already observed, in the Holy Isle 
of Loch Awe are many Celtic grave-stones, covered with 
sculptures of men and animals. But these monuments, 
probably of the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries, bear no in- 
scriptions, though writing, of course, had long been familiar.' 
On a mere balance of probabilities, then, we are certainly 
entitled to reject what Wolf thought probable, and to hold 
it likely that the quick-witted Greeks rapidly made prize of 

Sec nulc in The Briiial of Caoikhnant, by John Hay Allan, 
London, 1822. 


the Phcenician alphabet, and were not long before ihey 
applied it to literature J 

Wolf argues next on the evidence of mentions of early 
writing in the classics. Zaleucus in Italy (664 n.c.) is said 
to have bc*en the first who introduced written laws. Nitzsch 
controverts this opinion, founded on Stral>o,*^ and IJergk 
declares that far loo much weight is given to the evidence. 
* What was new was that /aleucus first gave a comprehen- 
sive written code {AW/i/soni/n/zix). . . . The iK'ginning of 
writing is not to be sought in political but in religious life.'** 
Wolf argues that Solon's laws (594 r..c.) were inscril)ed on 
rude materials, and )^oi'frrp'><^>;*Vir that is, alternately from 
right to left, and from left to right. Hut it does not follow 
that this manner of writing is less capable than another of 
literary employment. The famous inscription of the (ireek 
mercenaries under INanmictichus, on the leg of the colossal 
figure at Abu Simlx:!, is very possibly older than 594 i:.c., 
yet it is written from left to right.* It is not easy to follow 
Wolfs argument here, and \'olkmann is not too severe in 
calling it * very arbitrary.' In the eighth century, Wolf 
admits, some men of ingenuity may have used writing in 
Magna (Ira^cia and Ionia, and such i)oetsas Asius, Kumelus, 
and Arctinus may have done so, as well as the epic i>oets of 

' Merc imilalivencbs lfa(l> .sa\agcs in ihe ilircclion oi writing. Mr. 
J. J. Alkinstm informs ine ihal, on the siuldcn arrival of a fritMui, he 
\%rolc a n»c>sagc on a piece of l»ark, t;avc il to a Kancka in New Cale- 
donia, and i»ent him lo the ^hop for sunie whisky. Next day ihe 
Kancka rclurncd lu ihe .shop wilh another piece of l»ark, on \%hich he 
liad scratche<l signs al random. lie expected, I ml did nol get. another 
lK)ttIc of whisky ; he had not (|uile undersltHKi ihe nature t»f writing, 
Iml his mind was travelling in the proper direction. 

• vi. 260. A., qu(»ling Kphorus. 

' Dergk, Or. /.///. , p. 1 05 ; \olckmann, Ctuhuhtc tuui A'rUil-, p. 

' Ikrgk, i. 104. Tiic Igypti.iUo rcmaikevi on the Greek manner 
of writing from lelt to right ^Ilorodotu^, ii. 30). 


the first Olympiads (p. Ixx). But writing for literar)' purposes 
in the whole of Greece cannot he earlier than the age of Pisis- 
tratus. Wolf is reduced to this opinion because he is 
determined to give Pisislratus the credit of the first text of 
Homer. lUit it is clear enough that if men were writing in 
the eighth century, and if the (Jyclic poems were written, 
the Homeric poems were not likely to he left unwritten. 

Modern oi)inion, in- general, is opposed to the conclu- 
sions of Wolf about early Ci reek writing materials. ^Tho 
clouds of dust in which Wolf obscured the beginnings of 
writing are dispelled.' ^ 

The progress of reaction against Wolf's denial of writing 
to early Greece is well traced by \'olkmann.'^ In 1828 
Wolf's pupil, Kreuser, maintained the ancient priestly and 
oracular knowledge of the art, and took, as proof of its 
antiquity, the slow evolution of successive alphabets. From 
1828 onwards, Nit/.sch busily opposed this part of >\'olf's 
theory, and his energy was awakened again by the appear- 
ance of I^chmann's hypothesis of short .scattered lays 
{Liedertheorie) in 1837. 

Nilzsch relied much on the educational employment of 
writing in early times ; for example, on the statement that 
Tyrtajus was 'a teacher of letters.'*^ He also adduced 
Archilochus's employment of the word skyfal.\ a system of 
cry[)tic writing,* and Stesichorus's attribution of the art 
to Palamedes, in Trojan times.'* 

In 1830, Nitzsch forcibly argued for the very ancient use 
of prepared skins by the lonians and Barbarians, as reported 
l)y Herodotus. He pointed to such old proverbial expres- 
sions as *Zeus looked long into the skins,' or Hooks of Kate. 

' Phihhgisihe Untcrsuchuni^cUy Kicsslin^ iiml \Vilamu\vit/M<.('l- 
Icmlorff", vii. 286 (Berlin, 1884). 

- p. i8oj</y. ^, iv. 15. 

* Archil, fr. 39. * Becker, AneaL p. 7S3. 



He quoted an ingenious suggestion that the Homeric phrase 

* these things he on the knees of the gods ' refers to what is 
written in Fate's leathern roll. Moreover, the whole of 
archaeological discover)'^ and ethnological research, shows 
us peoples in the old world and the new, writing in materials 
not better than the Greeks had at hand, even if they lacked 

Another opi>onent of Wolfs dci'trine, as far as writing 
was concerned, is Bernhardy, in Epicrisis disputationh 
Wolfiancp de carminibus Homericis} The difficult expres- 
sion €f inrofioXi^^, in the stor)' about Solon's legislation on 
the matter of the rhapsodes, Bernhardy understood to mean 

* ad fidem exemplaris probati,' * in accordance with a good 
and received text.' He argued that the Cyclic poems were 
written and read, and believed that great part of the Homeric 
epics had l)een committed to writing by the beginning of the 
Olympiads (776 n.c). But the written texts were not for a 
reading public but *for a narrow circle of schools, and the 
i^uild of Homerida?.' Bernhardy, however, does not go so 
far as to lu'lieve in the original writing of the epics. 

\'olkmann himself argues the question of early Greek 
writing in the light of our wider knowledge of Greek in- 
scriptions discovered since Wolf's time, our wider know- 
ledge of Oriental antiquity, our wider knowledge of rude 
races generally. Some kind of writing is a very early ac- 
quisition of man's, the first step towards and the basis of 
culture. All civilised jK^oples have writing, or some analogous 
system of recording by signs. The early history of such 
signs, we may add, is incompletely known. The Australians, 
I>erhaps the most Ixickward race wfth which we are ac- 
(juainted, make use of * message sticks,' carved with lines 
and notches, which they can decipher. But this method 
answers rather to the rebuses composed of material objects, 

* Hal. 1S46. 


which are used by some of the natives of India, than to 
actual writing.' The Australian signs are probably agreed 
on by the parties sending and receiving the * message stick/ 
which is their skytalc!^ We find no examples of such means 
of communication among the more advanced Maoris, whose 
sacred hymns are preserved by regular StSao-icaXia, oral 
teaching in priestly colleges, answering to that of the 
Homeridae of one Homeric hypothesis. The unknown 
artists of the statues in Easter Island had a veiy elegant 
picture writing, in no way inferior, as far as appearance goes, to 
Egyptian hieroglyphics, but, of course, indecipherable by us. 
The Incas had nothing more advanced than knotted cords 
of various colours, aids to memory which were only under- 
stood by the learned, and which answered to the wampum 
belts of the North American Indians.^ When they wished 
to record any matter they * made a knot of it.' But the 
policy of the Incas was deliberately obscurantist, otherwise 
they might, perhaps, have borrowed a lesson from the hiero- 
glyphs of the Mayas in Yucatan. These are said to contain 
alphabetic characters. The Aztec system included picture 
signs and * phonograms,' thus * snake,' coatl^ is written with 
a sketch of a pot, co(rnitl) and the sign of water, a(i^)^ As 
mankind has thus always been striving after such signs, Volk 
mann argues that the Homeric Greeks, civilised, acute, and 
in contact with peoples who could write, must not be denied 
the art, and the habit of employing it for literary purposes."' 
Bergk observes : * Long before there was a reading public, 

' A curious example is to l)e found in Mr. Kipling's liook, Plain 
TaUsfrom the Hills. Another example, nearer home, in Allen Hreck's 
rel>us missive, in Mr. Stevenson's Kidnapped. 

- Broujrh Smyth, A/tori^ints of Australia. 

' f iarcilasso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of the Jncas. 

^ Tylor, Early History of Mankind^ p. 93. Taylor, The Alphabet 
i. 23. 

* Volkmann, pp. 217, 218. 


the poets made use of writing/ * Bergk even thinks that the 
* letter' of Pnetus may have really l)een a letter. 

As far as writing materials go, then, the contention of 
Wolf is not valid. The date, however, of writing in Greece, 
and the date of its application to literature, are different 
matters, and both are obscure. lUit our resources greatly 
exceed those which were at \\'olf*s command. As Canon 
Taylor points out, in 1S25 Rose's Iftscriptiones Gru^iic 
Vetustissiimr numl>ered less than one hundred. There 
are now more than ten thousand inscriptions in the four 
volumes of the Corpus Inscriptionum Gnrcarum^ and a 
complete collection might contain twice that nu|iil>er. Pro- 
l>al)ly there were inscriptions older than the oldest we 
possess. But, from those which arc familiar, it is plain that 
writing in Clreece, as a not uncommon accomplishment, 
may be at least as old as the ninth or tenth centur)- r..c. 

The oldest inscription which we can approximately date 
is not ver)* ancient. It is the Greek writing on the leg of 
the colossal Rameses II., at Abu Simbel, near the second 
cataract of the Nile, guarding the river gates into ancient 
Nubia.^ Some eight centuries after Rameses left The 
Silent Ones, his images, to watch the Desert and the Nile, 
certain Greek mercenar)' soldiers of Psammetichus, King ot 
Egypt, cut their names on the leg of the colossus. There 
were two kings named Psammetichus : the a^ndoiticri of 
either may have chiselled the inscription. The date of the 
earlier is 654 617 p..c. ; the date of the later is 594-589 u.c. 
It is more cautious to suppose that the later king is the 
person mentioned in the document. It consists of five lines 
written from left to right, and in the reading of IMass and 

' Cricih, Literatur^esihiihtf^ p. 526. 

- Bruijsch, History of E^pt. English translalion, ii. 95, 312. 
I^psius, /hnlmaii'i aus AiX)'/'len. vt»l. \ii. ul. oS, 99, where there are 
large lacMniiles of the inscriptions. 


Wiedemann ' may be translated thus : * When the King 
Psamatichus came to Elephantine, these words wrote the 
men with Psammatichus son of 'J'heocles. They sailed, 
and came above Cercis, as far as the River let them. The 
men of alien speech led Potasimpto ; the Egyptians, Amasis. 
Archon, son of Amcebichus, and Pelcgos, son of Eudamos, 
wrote Us.' There are also j^rqfflti by men of Teos, Colo- 
phon, lalysus in Rhodes, and other Greek adventurers. If 
we put the date no higher that 590 \\x.^ these chisellings 
prove that the Dugald Dalgettys of Greece could read, and 
write neatly and intelligibly, and from left to right, and with 
six vowels, and three new letters, </>, x> «A» ^H unknown to 
the parent alphabet, the Ph(.enician — six hundred years 
1 before our era. Now, writing must probably have existed 
for centuries before it was an ordinary accomplishment. 
Moreover, the characters used, when compared with other 
early inscriptions, show great advance on these, and it is 
natural to suppose that the advance required a long period 
of evolution. The inscriptions at Branchidae near Miletus 
are about a century later, yet in the characters evolution 
has had time to produce few changes. At Abu Simbel II 
(eta) is used both as an English H, and as a vowel, long 
E. At Branchidae H is only employed as a vowel. Koppa, 
something like our Q, is used at Abu Simbel, at Branchidic 
it has disappeared. There is no long O (omega) at Abu 
Simbel, at Branchidae it is in use. 

* Since it took nearly a century to bring about these 
three innovations, it is obvious that a century would be 
wholly inadequate for e/Tecting the enormously greater 
amount of divergence between the Abu Simbel ali)habet 
and the parent Phoenician * (Taylor, ii. 1 7). Between the 
original Phoenician alphabet and that of Abu Simbel there 
are great differences, which (unless invented in a dream, 

' Taylor, ii. 12. 



as in ^Vfrica) could not l)e rapidly developed. There are 
three additional letters at Abu Simbel over and above the 
Phoenician, and the vowels have been evolved. 

AV'e have examined the process of evolution downwards, 
from Abu Simbel to Branchidae. Let us now look at 
inscriptions older than that of Abu Simbel, but not so easy 
to date. Cadmus (*the Man of the East ') brought letters 
to Greece, according to Herodotus, touching at the Isle of 
Thera on his way. By an interesting coincidence, that extinct 
volcano supplies the oldest known Clreek inscriptions, cut on 
blocks of lava or basalt. Some are written in Phcenician 
fashion, from right to left. Some are written alternately from 
right to left and from left to right (bousirop/udon), A third 
kind are from left to right, as at Abu Simbel. 

The first sort is little modified from the PhaMiician 
original. In place of ////, <^, as at Abu Simbel, we have 
riH. Thus <^ had not been invented, and H was still, as 
in English, an aspirate. In these early writings QH (q/i) 
is used in place of X (c/w), KH was also in vogue. 
Not to delay, the Thera inscriptions * cover the 
whole period during which the change in direction of 
the writing took place.' What, then, is the date of the 
inscriptions in Thera? It seems only natural to believe 
that, between the most aichaic and the more modern writings 
a long period of time must have gone by. Though Kirch- 
hoff and Mr. Newton place them all about 620 b.c. it is 
easier to agree with Canon Taylor, that the various methods 
were slowly evolved, and even the least archaic of these is 
more archaic than the writing* at Abu Simbel. If changes 
in the alphal)el were made gradually, not /tv jr////////, we 
might not exceed in allowing for several centuries between 
the oldest Theran inscriptions and that which is not later 
than 590 i;.c. We might take 950 B.C. as a [)ossible dale 
for the beginning of writing in Greece. But when the 


(Irceks began to use writing for the preservation of literary 
compositions is quite another question. 

Here we have little but analogy to guide us. Were 
letters used for long, as Wolf supposes, only in brief inscrip- 
tions on stone or metal ? It at once occurs to the mind 
that the first Phoenician letters which Greeks would see at 
home must have been in portable documents, not inscrip- 
tions on pillars or on walls. Again, the Aztecs had large 
numbers of documents painted on skins, but of inscriptions 
on monuments they have left scarce any at all. There 
seems to be no good reason why Greece, or any nations, 
should have lx*gun to practise the art of writing on the 
hardest and most difficult materials. 

Once more, analogy shows that even very rude peojlcs, 
like the Ojibbeways, use their picture signs to record their 
brief lyric poems. ' The Icelanders of the heroic age {cin\ 
looo A.D.) were no great writers, but they, too, carved their 
songs in runes, on staves, if we may trust the Sagas. I'^gyi>t 
and Assyria showed to travelled (ireeks the example of 
wTiting for purposes of literature. These analogies tend, 
as far as they go, towards the presumption that, once 
acquainted with letters, the Greeks would not long delay to 
write out their i)oems and other such matters. Thus l^urgk 
is inclined to Ixlieve that writing is older than the Iliad 
and Odyssey, and that the original poet of these epics may 
also have been among the first to use writing as an aid to 
memory and in composition. The Odyssey according to 
Wilamowitz could in no other way have been t(mi[)uscd, 
but he is si)eaking of *our Odyssey' as it stands, in his 
opinion a late piece of patchwork (of*, cit. p. 293). 

Wolf ne.xt argues against writing in Homer's day, from 

' It may be urged thai these are magical chants, and thai tlic 
picture signs are parts of the magic, IJiil the earliest use of writing 
mubt aldO have seemed to possess magical efticacy. 


IIoniLTs silence. It is plain that this argument must not 
I Hi too hardly pressed. As we have seen, signet rings were 
in existence (say 1400 r..c.) in Mycen»x, hut Homer never 
mentions rings.* Two juissages have been much discussed. 
The first is the marking of each hero's token, or lot, by a 
private sign (n-i;/i«) which he recognised when he saw it.'- 
These * signs ' were not writing, or the herald would have 
read out the name of the owner of the winning lot. Kut it 
does not follow that writing was unknown. Ancient signs 
are used in casting lots for portions of common land, by 
persons who can write |)erfectly well. The other passage ' 
refers to the famous so-called letter of Trtetus. We have 
already stated Wolfs argument. On the other side it can 
only be said that if the ' Ixmeful tokens ' need not have been 
writing, nothing proves that they were not. It is plain that 
they would have l>een intelligible to Bellerophon, for they 
were not in *an o|>en envelope ' but in a folded tablet. It 
is plain that they were not a mere picture of a man with his 
head cut o(T, they signified * many deadly things,' It is mani- 
fest, too, that lobates exf^cckd to receive credentials : he 
asked for them after ten days passed in courteous entertain- 
ment. These tokens may have h<icx\ anything, from something 
liki! Aztec rebuses, to l^Kcnician characters, 'inhere can l>e 
no absolute certainty on the subject. The persons, too, are 
Ly< ian, not Cireek. As to Rousseau's remark, that the * silly 
complications' of the Odyssey would have l)een unravelled by 
a letter, the remark is imbecile. l>y a letter from whom to 
wlK»m ? From Odysseus to Penelope ? But a message in 
the mouth of the swineherd would have been safer than a 
note which Anlinous or Kurymachus might have intercepted. 
It was necessary to the scheme of Odysseus that his wife 

' riiny, xwiii. 4, where l*liny saya ihal Iluincr tkn-'s nicnlion «W/- 
t/V/iA cpUttilarum. 

' Iliad, vii. 175. » Ibid. vi. i6S. 



should not know of his arrival. Or did Rousseau imagine 
that there should have been postal communication be- 
tween Ogygia and Ithaca? Wolf was too ready to accept 
support from the fli[)[)ant ignorance of the Frenchman. 

The argument from Homer's silence, then, is of slight 
value. He is silent about other matters with which he nuist 
have been actjuainted. The ei)ic, too, is a thing of old 
formuhe, a mass of survivals, and a poet who could write 
might think the mention of letters as great an anachronism 
in his lay as forgery seems in Marmion. Thus, on the 
whole, the tendency of modern opinion on this matter is 
conservative, is oj^posed to >Voirs conclusions. We may 
not be able to prove that Homer could write, I)Ut we see 
tliat Wolf has not demonstrated the opposite. 




We now arrive at the constructive part of Wolfs task. He 
has, as he supi>oses, destroyed the l)ehef in an early written 
epic ; how, then, did the epic sur\ive : how did it obtain its 
present form ? First, the lays of Homer were preser\ed l)y 
rhapsodes, or public reciters. But Wolfs whole argument 
is meant to show that men, from Homer's own day 
till the beginning of the fifth centur)-, were poets themselves. 
He insists that they would wilfully alter, *cut,* lengthen, 
and interpolate, at will. The lays thus altered beyond hojH; 
of recognition would reach the time of Pisistratus, would 
then l)e written out, and begin to receive iK)lish, and Ix; 
welded into unitv. 

Hut what do we know about the rhapsodes? Were they 
really poets? l>id they not only make lays of their own, 
but also recite and alter those of earlier minstrels ? ^Vas the 
instruction {6i6n(rKa\ia) of rhapsodes an accurate aftair, or 
rould the reciter mangle his original as he pleased ? It is 
clear that, in Wolfs opinion, he might take any lil)erty 
(/V<»/tx;'. cv). * There was every opiH)rtunity for changing, 
omitting, and adding. Their care was /lo/ to keep the songs 
inUict.* He cites, as analogous to the rhapsodes, however, 
the Druids and kirds, of whose educational svstem we 
know nothing. Two analogous cases we really know, in 


New Zealand and in ancient India. In New Zealand the 
Maoris liave, or had, regular schools of oral instruction. 
Boys and young men were taught to repeat, with accuracy, 
the long and remarkable poems containing the cosmogonic 
legends of New Zealand.* 

In this case, however, as probably in that of the Druids, 
the liymns were sacred, and accuracy was a religious 
necessity. The same remark applies to the Vedic hymns, 
which were preserved by a thorough system of oral instruc- 
ti<>n, long before India had the means of writing.*-* J>ul we 
cannot be certain that the pre-eminent excellence of the 
Homeric epics would, in a non-writing age, secure for 
them such sedulous care. Wolfs rhapsodes had nothing 
Jess in their minds, according to him, than the maintenance 
of a pure text. The * teaching ' they received was thus 
of less than no value for preserving the old songs. Now, 
to preserve the old songs is the one object of such schools 
of oral traditional poetry as we know in experience. 
Wolf slightly mentions the familia^ guild, or college of 
Homeridaj in Chios, but he probably did not supi)ose 
that they, any more than other rhapsodes, cared about 
maintaining the original form of the lays. These Ilomcridic 
play a great part in the hypothesis of some who do 
not believe in an early written Iliad or Odyssey. The 
darkling topic only concerns us as far as the Homeridie, or 
the rhapsodists, or both, may have preserved, or corru[)ted, 
or in any way manipulated ancient lays. The theory is 
that the Homeridx were a guild of poets and reciters, who, 
possessing ancient lays in oral memory, possessing, for 
example an original poem on the wrath of Achilles, com- 
l>used additional pieces which they recited as Homeric, 
and so gradually produced the greater part of our Iliad. 

• T^kyVn, New Zifalaitti. \s'h\{Qy 'J7ic //isiory of Niw Zcalaitt/yi. 11. 
- Max Miiller, History of Sanskrit Literature. 


To this hyiHjthcsis there are several objections. As Mr. 
Matthew Arnold argues,* we cannot Ixjlieve in the existence 
of a number of great iMjels, all masters of the grand style ; 
by which, of course, he does not mean mere epic fonnula, 
dialect, and commonplace. It is said that there are usually- 
several great ^kjcIs when there is one, as witness the Kli/a- 
liethan dramatist^, the age of Louis XIV., the period of 
Byron, Scott, Shelley, Keats, and Coleridge. Hut these 
great contemiK)raries are always very distinct in style and 
genius. Nobody could mistake Webster for Shakspeare, 
Byron for Keats, Coleridge for Scott. In Molieres day, 
no living man could have written an act worthy of a 
place in one of his comedies. In two years' space, Eng- 
land was enriched by li'averky and Pride and Prejudice. 
No works could be more dissimilar and distinct. It is 
thus improbable that, even granting the epic common- 
place, one poet told of Helen on the wall and beside 
Hector's corpse, while another sang of the fall of Patro- 
clus, and so on. Once more, all experience shows us that 
great poets will not choose to father their own works 
on another. * Poet is jealous of jwet,' says Hesiod. Is it 
probable that, in the life, or after the death, of the comi>oser 
of the * Wrath of Achilles,* another minstrel, etjually great, 
would refuse all claim to his own Helen, his Paris, his visit 
of Priam to Achilles, and modestly declare that these im- 
mortal scenes were his predecessor's? It is not in human 
nature to act thus, however careless an age may l)e i>f 
literary projKirty. Again, it is plain that while {>oets were 
celebrating, under shadow of Homers shield, their local 
heroes, and glorifying their own states, other cities would 
jealously watch the process, and would demur to including 
the fantasies of individuals in the general glory roll of Greece. 
If even there were a guild of ilomerida:, we might as 

' Leiturci on Tratisia/in^ Homer, 


easily l>elieve that they tried to preserve the lays with 
accuracy, as that they dclilx^rately mangled and interpolated 
them. But was there ever any such guild, or clan, in Chios 
and elsewhere ? Pindar ' speaks of ' Homeridoe ' (literally, 
'descendants of Homer'), * minstrels of stitched, or woven 
lays.' The scholiast explains : * Of old they called men of 
Homer's clan (yeVo?) ** Homeridae," who chanted his lays Ik 
8ui&)X^9, aflenvards the term was applied to rhapsodes not 
of his kin,' as the Chian ( !ynaithus. 

Strabo - writes : * The Chians, too, lay claim to Homer, 
offering as strong proof the so-called I lomeridx of his clan, 
of whom Pindar also makes mention ' that is, in the line 
alx>ut ' Homerid;^;, chanters of woven lays.' liut this con- 
nection of Chios with the Homerida?, is a mere theory of 
the Chians. Neither Pindar, nor even his scholiast, mentions 
Chios. Haq>ocration, in his lexicon, has * Homcrida) : a 
clan in Chios, as Acusilaus writes. Hellanicus, in the 
Atlantis^ avers that they were named from the poet.' 
Suidas says that *the Homeridae were a Chian clan, 
named from Homer.' The evidence of Acusilaus is highly 
suspicious."* Suidas also offers an alternative derivation 
of * Homeridne,' which Harpocration too gives in very 
obscure language.' The question is, Are these Homeridie 
reported to have had clan -ritual and offerings, like other 
clans (yimrj)? Apparently Harpocration's authority, Se- 
leucus, did not believe this, for he denied it, and in- 
sisted on the alternative etymology of * Homeridae ' from 
ofiY)fx}<;, a hostage. In brief, as Nutzhorn says : * The word 
Homeridne sometimes means men who busied themselves 
with Homer, sometimes appears as the title of a Chian 
family, who, as some thought, received their name from the 
poet. This is all that the ancients knew about the 

' Nemean Oi/es^ ii. I. ' xiv. p. 645. 

" Volkmann, p. 261. * JHU. p. 263 272. 


Homeridre, but it has offered stuff enough for learned com- 
bination and conjecture.' * We know no more, and are not 
even sure what the scholiast means when he says that the 
Homeridae chanted the lays €k 3(a3oxvs. Does this signify that 
they chanted in succession, one following the other, or that 
they inherited and handed down their knowledge of the lays 
from generation to generation ? All is hopelessly abandoned 
to conjecture. So much for the Homeridae, They offer no- 
thing to build or wreck a creed upon. They may have 
maintained an accurate text of Homer, or may not. We 
are in total ignorance. A somewhat vague use of the 
hypothesis of an Homeric * school,' perhaps indicated by 
tradition as the * Homeridje,' is made by Mr. Leaf in his 
Companion to the Iliad (p. 21)— there was *a body to 
mainiain a fixed standard,' *a central authority.' lUit a fixed 
standard was just what they did not maintain, as each 
member of the school, at his own will and fantasy, gave 
* something new.' Obviously, such a school would not 
preserve so much as deprave the older lays. Hefore poems 
thus composed could be wrought into the scheme of the 
Iliad, a * Recension ' would be absolutely necessary. And 
when was it made if the Pisistratus legend is a fable ? 

As for the rhapsodes, we first hear of them as existing in 
.Solon's time. Herodotus (v. 67) says that Tleisthenes of 
Sicyon forbade the local rhapsodes to recite Homer at the 
games, because Homer praised his enemies, the Argives 
(circ. 600 n.c). Beyond that our historical evidence does 
not go, though, no doubt, the contests of rhapsodes were 
then an old institution. There is no trace of these contests 
in Homer, though Thamyris competed with the Muses. 
Ijut the Hymn to Apollo, which was old enough to be re- 
garded as Homeric by Thucydides, proves the antiquity of 
such competitive displays. The scholion on l*indar, already 

' Nutzhorn, Die Entstehungru*eise^ p. 67. 


quoted, after saying that the Homeridae were originally the 
reciters of the Homeric poems, adds : * The name was after- 
wards applied to rhapsodes not of Homer's clan. The 
company of Cynaethus was particularly conspicuous. They 
are said to have made many lays and incorporated them 
with those of Homer. Cynaethus was a Chian who, of the 
poems attributed to Homer, is said to have written the Hymn 
to Apolio, This Cynaethus was the first to recite the Homeric 
epics in Syracuse, about Ol. 69, as Hippostratus says.' 

Here one thing only is plain. Cynaethus, though a 
Chian, and in one sense an Homerid, had no claim to be of 
the clan of Homer. As it is hardly credible that Homer 
was unknown in Syracuse r.c. 504, we must imagine that 
he 7vas known, but not recited, if the story be true. In 
that case, he must have been known through written texts. 
In Sicily, Theagenes of Rhegium had already philosophised 
on Homer. In Sicily, too, lived Xcnophancs, who says 
that all men learn Homer, and who blames his mythological 
scandals. It is not to be believed that Syracuse knew 
nothing of Homer after he was so familiar in Sicily. It may 
he that Cynaethus was the first who, in Syracuse, declaimed 
Homer at a festival ; he cannot have been the first who intro- 
duced his jx)ems there. 

Against the theory that Solon first made the rhapsodes 
put order into the poems, \'olkmann argues that, if they 
really were a guild for preserving the lays, it was in their 
interest always to have done this, and that they would not 
need a layman to teach them their business. 

It is evident that our knowledge of the rhapsodes is far 
too slight to be the basis of a theory and can be of no 
service to Wolf. We do not know when, or how, the 
minstrel, chanting his own songs, declined into the reciter 
declaiming those of other people. We do not know how 
soon a sentiment in favour of maintaining favourite pieces 


in their original and favourite fonn may have arisen. 
We cannot estimate the jealousy which may have made 
a minstrel prevent his rivals from getting opi)ortunities 
to learn his rom|x>sitions by heart, nor can we \yc certain 
that vanity would not restrain the rivals from attempting 
this kind of piracy. We have no real testimony as to 
the existence of an Homeric guild in (!hios, and, if it did 
exist, we cannot s;iy whether its members strove to keep 
pure, or lal)Oured to exiKind and alter, the lays of their 
eiK)nymous hero, Homer. The few surviving traditions, vague 
hints, ob-scure and corrupt |)assages of lost writers lK\iring 
on these to|)ics have l>een sifted, discussctl, conjecturally 
emended at vast length, and yield nothing jwsitive. We 
may try what light analogy can yield by comparing the man- 
ners of other limes and nations, but that light is seldom *dr)* 
light.' We are, in fact, as far as ever from learning whence 
came the unity and construction of the epics. It could not 
be given. Wolf holds, by the original minstrel, who, ex hypo- 
f/iesi\ could not write. Xor could it arise fortuitously, when 
any portion of the ikkmus might be ret:ited, ai)art from its 
context. Wolf, as we saw, declares that a jK)et of Homer's 
age would have had no audience for such long pieces, ajid 
<'ould have had no reailers. Wolf forgets that a court 
minstrel might continue his narration through the winter 
nights of a month, if he pleased. He also makes the 
familiar confusion of supposing that, even if a man couUl 
write, he would not write out a poem, unless he had a read- 
ing public. The Middle .\ges fortunately supply an example 
lo the j)oint. The .SV;//;; of Roland exists at the Hodleian, in 
the manuscript l)Ook of a trouvcre^ or Old French rhapsode. 
His public did not read the manuscript, but he refreshed 
with it his own memory. Reading was a very rare accom- 
plishment, but the Stvt<^ of Noliind was proliably composed 
by the aid of wiiling, and was ( eriainly preserved in that 


way, not for a reading public, but for the use of the author, 
and of such reciters as could obtain copies. In similar 
circumstances, if writing existed, but was little practised, 
Homer might readily have composed by the aid of writing, 
and used his copy to aid his memory, though there was no 
reading public. 

A well-known and ancient Greek tradition could only 
have come into existence in this state of affairs. Homer is 
said to have married his daughter to Stasinus, and to have 
given her the copy of the * Cypria ' as her dowry. Now, 
such a gift could only have been valuable ( 1 ) in an age of 
copyright like our own, when the owner of the poem might 
make his terms with a publisher, or (2) in an age when no 
one could recite a poem, and obtain the rewards for reciting 
it, unless he had a copy of the work. The former alterna- 
tive is out of the question. An example of the second is 
supplied by the early Middle Ages. A trouvlre leaves, in 
verse, his own copy of his epic poem (chanson de geste) to his 
son. He tells the young man that he himself has lived very 
well by reciting it, that he has carefully prevented other 
trouveres from getting copies, and that he hopes the poem 
will be as valuable to his son as it had been to himself. * 

The tradition about the dowry, of course, is not to be 
taken as an historical fact. But the legend could only have 
arisen either in an age of copyright, or in such circum- 
stances as the irouvlre describes : that is, when writing 
existed but there was no reading public. Thus both of 
Wolf's arguments carry no conviction. There might easily 
be audiences in the princely hall for a long epic, and a man 
who could write might, and would, write out a poem, though 
he had no reading public, as did the author of the Song of 
Roland, Yet Wolf says : * If Homer had no readers, I 
cannot imagine how he could ever have thought of com- 

• Leon Gautier, Epopees Francaises, i. 215, 216. 



posing such long and elaborately connected lays ' {Proicgg, 
p. cxii). All this seems a wandering from the main point — 
how did Odyssey and Iliad come into existence ? But the 
argument of Wolf, hastily written, with the printer's devil 
always at the door, is, in fact, loose and rambling. 

It occurs to him (p. cxiv) that his task will be easier 
if he can show that the unity is not so man-ellous after all. 
That of the Odyssey he admits, but explains as the con- 
structive work of a later age which put together old lays that 
happened to fit. That of the Iliad he impugns, but this 
is not the place to defend it. Wolf's business is to show 
that the unity is a verj' late effort of art. The original 
poet wove the web so far, others completed it. As we have 
seen, he argues that the Cyclic ix)ems (of the eighth cen- 
tur)') lack unity. Now, if these authors had imitated 
Homer, they would have aimed at unity. They did not : 
therefore they did not know the Homeric examples as we 
possess them ; therefore, too, j>oetical unity is the work of a 
later age than theirs. To this, arguing by analog)^, we might 
answer that the S<mg of Hoiattd of the eleventh ccntur)', 
has much more unity and coherence than its languid and 
diffuse remaniements in a later and more cultivated ajio. 
On the whole point, modern scholars are directly opposed to 
Wolf. Since the work of Wclcker {Der e/*isc/ie Cyclus) it has 
been generally recognised that the Cyclic poems presuppose 
the existence of an Iliad, and were delil)erately planned for- 
the purpose of introducing and continuing its narrative.* 

Wolf's strictures, which follow, on interpolations in the 
epics, and juncturic l)etween what had been unconnected 
rhapsodies or lays, will be examined later. He has now 
convinced himself that writing did not exist for literary pur- 
poses in Homer's time ; that Homer could not write, and 

' See Jebb, /////-ft///r//<7// /i> //i?////'r, pp. 150 153. Monro, ytv/;7;a/ 
of He I left ic Studies^ iv. 305, v. i. 


would have had no motive for writing if he could ; that 
poems older than the epics as we have them show none of 
their unity and constructive art ; that this art is, therefore, 
later ; that the Iliad and Odyssey present signs of tinkering, 
and in fact they are a congeries, but not a fortuitous congeries, 
of poetic atoms. Their unity was the work of many minds 
in many ages, all labouring on the remembered lays of the 
original minstrels. As we saw, he adduces ancient 
doubts as to the originality of several books, and then ex- 
amines what is reported by tradition as to the literary history 
of the epics. It is in this history that he must discover the 
method of the evolution. His first really important point, 
Solon's law as to reciting Homer at the Panathenaic games, 
has been discussed already. But the point is, to the last 
degree, obscure. As Mr. Monro remarks, in his edition of 
the Iliad (p. xv), our only good evidence is that of the 
orators Lycurgus and Isocrates. The law of *our fathers,' 
according to Lycurgus, appointed Homer's to be the only 
poems recited at the quinquennial Panathennea. ' The 
remark of Isocrates is still more vague. -^ The garbled or 
corrupt evidence of Dieuchidas of Mcgara in Diogenes 
Laertius is earlier, but is interested (as there was a (]uarrel 
between Megara and Athens, which turned on a line in the 
catalogue of the ships) and is interrupted by lacunar. The 
text has been interminably discussed, to no sound purpose.^ 
Leaving matter so disputable. Wolf at last comes to his 
point. He will now show us how and when the unity of 
construction was given and artistic merit imparted lo the 
epics. * History speaks. The voice of all antiquity, and 

' I^ocr. p. 209. - Paneii)'r. c. 42. 

' V'olkmann, p. 306. The value of the evidence of Dieuchidas, 
and the Alexandrine estimate of it, arc discussed by MollendorfT {Philo- 
logische Uiitersuchungen^ Berlin, 1884, p. 342) and by Ludwich 
{Aristarch^ tfomfrische Tt,xtkri(ik, ii. 399). 

V 2. 


the common consent of report avers that Pisistratus first 
com miffed fht Homeric epics fo 7vritin^ and published them in 
the order ivherein 7fe read them noiv.^ 

This is the great discover)' for which we have waited so 
long, and to reach which we have toiled through such 
jungles of learning. But, such is the fate of literar)* dis- 
coveries, the part attributed to Pisistratus by Wolf is now 
disbelieved in by the vast majority of scholars. 

It has l)een obvious to anyone who read the passages 
from ancient authors quoted by Wolf, that they do not say 
Pisistratus first committed Homer to writing. Thus Suidas 
(s. v.'O/ii/po?) declares that Homer * wrote ' the Iliad, but in 
fragmentary portions, leaving separate cantos in separate 
towns, whence Pisistratus collected and combined them. 
Tzetzcs speaks of Homer's * books,* for collecting which 
Pisistratus made proclamation. In the scholion on Plautus 
discovered by Ritschl, it is said that Homer was read 
* fragmentarily, and not without difficulty.' Cicero avers ' 
that Pisistratus first arranged in their present shape *the 
Books of Homer.* Josephus, who alone asserts that Homer 
could not write, says nothing about Pisistratus at all. 
Plutarch clearly holds ^ that Lycurgus used a written text.** 
It is not improbable that the whole legend aljout Pisistratus 
dates from an epigram, said to have been inscribed on his 
statue in Athens. * I collected Homer, formerly sung in 
scattered lays.* But is it likely that the Athenians allowed 
a statue of Pisistratus the tyrant to stand in Athens ? * It 
may be regarded as certain that the epigram is a mere literary 
exercise, going kick at furthest to Alexandrine times. It 
seems probable, however, that it is the source from which 
the other statements are derived.' ' In Nutzhorn*s Die 

' />«• Oralore^ iii. 34, 137. - l.ycur^HS, 4, 

* Liulwich, op, cil, ii. 3SS, note 330. 

* Monro, vol. i. p. xxvi. note. 


EntsUhungswcise dcr Ilomensc/ien Gedichte, p. 15,* will be II 
found the array of the evidence on which Wolf and, later, 
Lachniann relied, and a criticism of the Pisistratean hypo- 

Though Wolf curiously exaggerated the value of his 
witnesses, yet he showed his acuteness by projecting a theory 
of this kind. Something of the sort is absolutely necessary 
to all who argue freely against the unity and originality of 
the epics. If they are in the right ; if every popular poet 
who chose could cut and carve the body of Homer, and 
could insert what he pleased of his own ; if these processes 
were going on for three hundred years, from Smyrna on the 
east to Massilia in the west, how did Greece ever obtain one 
generally recognised text of Iliad and Odyssey ? Would not 
Thessaly liave one text, Thebes another, Athens a third, 
Colophon a fourth, all widely and irreconcilably different, as 
different poets, for different reasons, had modified, abridged, 
and enlarged ? 

Wolf saw clearly that, if an early written text, and copies 
from it, were to be abandoned a^ impossible, he must find 
a time, a place, and an editor, to whom Greece owed a 
textus receptus. Editor and place he found in Pisistratus, 
and at Athens. But, if separatist scholars reject his theory, 
as a myth without basis in evidence, how do they account 
for the present existence of Iliad and Odyssey ? If Pisi- 
stratus and his friends did not give unity to scattered lays, 
who did, and when, and where ? 

We have examined the hypothesis of a kind of poetical 
college, a society of Homeridx, who first recited and after- 
wards enlarged, and finally, perhaps, codified the casual 
lays, and imposed the mass on Hellas as recognised 
wholes. Meanw^hile, Wolfs Pisistratean hypothesis is not 
only deficient in evidence, but in direct contradiction with 

' Leipzig, 1869. 


other old literary myths, which offer as good testimony as 
that of Cicero and Pausanias. More than three centuries 
before Cicero, Ephorus and Heraclides Ponticus observe 
that Lycurgus brought the Homeric ix)ems from Asia to 
Sparta. Diogenes, we have seen, practically asserts that 
Homer had already existed * in order ' when Solon made 
the rhapsodes recite him in order. The author of the 
pseudo- Platonic Hipparchus attributes to his hero what 
Dieuchidas attributes to Solon. These contradictor)* legends 
cancel each other. * It is hardly too much to say that they 
are versions of a single story, told in turn of the chief states- 
men of early Greek histor) / ' 

The present writer must venture, however, to express 
his own opinion that where there is so much confused 
smoke of tradition, there may have been some fire of fact. 
All the traditions maintain that the Homeric poems were, 
at one time, in a * scattered' state. Most of the legends 
find the place of their collection at Athens. Now, grant 
ing that the epics, as continuous wholes, were composed 
and possibly written, at a very early date, historical causes 
would tend to break up their unity. When the Achaean 
courts were ruined, there would no longer be an audience 
for long poems, an audience meeting night by night in a 
royal hall. To a popular audience, assembled on a day of 
festival, reciters would declaim only iH)rtions of the jx)ems. 
The more striking passages would be the favourites bol^ of 
rhapsodes and listeners. Thus the ix)ems would tend to 
degenerate into mere * Beauties of Homer.' To prevent 
this was the object of the law attributed to Solon. Thus 
Athens, in a sense, i>erhaps really did collect what was being 
scattered, and did restore the connection of the lavs. That 
written texts should be copied out at Athens is not unlikely. 
But, if it were so, we may see how little Athens, with all her 

' Monro, vol. i. p. xxviL 


advantages, could interpolate the poems, by the very scarcity 
of allusions to the city. Wilamowitz (p. 245) finds an Attic 
interpolation in Iliad xii. 372, where Pandion (an Attic 
name) carries his bow for Teucer ! Then there is the 
famous disputed line about Aias, in the catalogue, and the 
lines on the city of Erechtheus (ii. 546), there are a very few 
references to Menestheus (xiii. 195), and to Theseus, as in 
the Odyssey (xi. 631). If these be Attic interpolations, they 
show how very little even an ambitious and poetic state 
could do in the way of interpolating. She could not intro- 
duce the Aristeia of a local hero. How, then, and by whom, 
and when, were all the other innumerable * interpolations ' 
made ? 

Another problem arises, how did the successive additions 
win general acceptance as part of the epic ? We must 
remember that the epic was more than a poem, it was taken 
as history, its evidence was quoted as justifying titles to 
land, and was jealously watched, as we see in the Megarian 
tradition that Solon interpolated certain lines, Iliad, ii. 
557 8.* Now, if the Iliad in the time of Solon was being 
quoted as unimpeachable authority for territorial claims, is it 
likely that Pisistratus would have been allowed later to put 
forward, with the general consent of Greece, an Athenian 
edition, and that the first? If the verses, in Solon's day, 
only existed in memory, they would have been of little value 
as^ testimony in a court of arbitration. 

The evidence as to the popularity of Homeric poetry, 
among all Greek -speaking peoples, in times very remote, is 
considerable. But, in estimating it, we are always met by the 
difficulty that Homeric incidents may have been known, and 
assigned to Homer, yet need not have existed in the shape 
which we now possess, in Iliad and Odyssey. Thus Alc- 

* Strabo, ix. 394. Aristotle, RhetorUf i. 15. 


mail sang of Odysseus and the Sirens ; * Stesicliorus, in Sicily, 
deliberately and consciously altered the story of Helen. 
So, in art, the throne of the Aniycljcan Apollo was decorated 
with scenes from Iliad and Odyssey, and also from the 
Cyclic poems. So decorated, with appropriate inscriptions, 
was the ivor)' and cedar chest of Cypselus (circ, 700 i>.c.).'^ 
Certainly the Homer and Hesiod whose morality Xenophanes 
blamed, and declared to be universally taught in the educa- 
tion of youth, were authors whom no man, nor state, would 
be allowed to tamj>er with. Far off, in Italian Elea, Xeno- 
phanes prol)ably read the same Homer as men in Miletus 
or Smyrna (circ, 500 B.C.). If, then, we conclude with 
Nutzhorn that, long before 500 n.c, Homer was universally 
known throughout the Hellenic world, we are further than 
ever from being able to l>elieve in \Volf's Pisistratean hyix)- 
thesis.^ A single state would not be allowed to construct 
the canon of the Greek Scriptures. Yet some hyiX)thesis as 
to the origin of a universally accepted text of the ancient 
Greek histor)- and Domesday Book we must discover, unless 
we adopt the old view that in Homer's time, or not much 
later, authentic texts were written. 

It is incredible that such a state as Athens was, under 
Pisistratus, should have imposed a Homer of her own, not 
only on all cities from the Euxine to Italy, but on all 
rhapsodes, wherever they recited. *We are involved in 
a network of contradictions if we do not reject the whole 
Pisistratean hypothesis as a fable.' 

Pisistratus, even, according to AVolf, did not leave Homer 
a round and perfect whole. * To ixjlish completely, and nd 
unguem^ may seem too hard a task for a first endeavour.' * 
Pis'Stratus had assistants and successors. But here Wolf 
proves too much. If the epic is wow pcrpoii turn cf t/itasi ad 

' Nutzhorn, p. 54. - Pausanias, v. 176. 

* Nutzhorn, pp. 56, 5S. * Prolegomena^ p. cl. 


u/iguem complanaium^ * polished to the nail,' what becomes 
of all the talk about its inconsistencies and blunders ? But, 
if it is not so polished, what were all the * diaskeuasts ' and 
other polishers who succeeded Pisistratus about? It is 
either polished or it is not. If it is, cadit qticcstio as to 
its innumerable defects. 

If it is not, what becomes of the industry of the polishers? 
The Venetian scholia mention several pass ges as interpo- 
lations by Diaskeuasts. And WoM alleges that these Dia- 
skeuasts were exactores vd poliioreSy *ix)lishers' of the text, 
contemporary with or rather later than Pisistratus. 

But the word Diaskeuast means nothing of this kind. 
They were interpolators of fictitious lines. Homer was not 
the only sufferer. Aristophanes even, according to Aristar- 
chus and Apollonius, had been the victim of diaskeuastic in- 
dustry.* The term Stoo-Kcud^cti/ means * to corrupt a genuine 
text,' as Galen says some supposed the text of Hippocrates 
to have been corrupted. A number of examples from Arist- 
archus's criticism of the Iliad will be found in Lehrs.'-^ In 
each case the motive for the interpolation is assigned. The 
examples are of no very great magnitude or importance. 
Many modern critics, however, assign nearly as much of the 
epic to interpolators as to Homer. Among his * polishers ' 
Wolf thinks that Onomacritus the forger, Simonides of 
Ceos, and Anacreon of Teos may be reckoned. 

Leaving the age of Pisistratus, Wolf presumes that early 
copyists would produce very various texts, partly from varia- 
tions in recital, partly from mere whim. Men would treat 
Homer, in fact, as editors, early in our century, treated the 
Border Ballads, interpolating, mixing texts for purely 
aesthetic reasons, and generally incurring the just wrath of 
Ritson. To this we need only answer that the common 

' Aristoph. Ratuc, 1439 sqq, Lehrs's Aristarchus, p. 328. 
^ Ojf>. cit, pp. 329, 330. 


sacred poetry and educational text-book of Greece was 
hardly likely to be treated as Bishop Percy handled popular 
ballads. These were new to men of letters ; Homer was of 
a holy antiquity. These were the literature of peasants ; 
Homer was the charter of kings and states. 'All men 
learned Homer * as early as 550 b c, according to Xeno- 
phanes.^ All states and priests appealed to his evidence. 
To alter it purposely was no light thing, that ever\* amateur 
should try his hand on it, ex ingeniosa libidine. 

Wolf declares that the text was altered summa levitate^ 
* with the utmost frivolity.' Ludwich, on the other hand, 
avers that never did a people preser\'e any language so 
piously and carefully as the Greeks preserved their epic 
idiom.- The same writer regards the supposed fantastic 
correctors and revisers as mere modern puppets of the 
fancy.^ Assuredly this view has more a priori probability. 
In the very nature of the case, public sentiment would not 
allow every poetaster to deface, as Wolf imagines, the most 
sacred national possession, by 'adding grace, where grace 
there was none.' * We have seen that the early copies, 
which the Alexandrian critics handled under the Ptolemies, 
were of two classes. Some were styled * civic copies,' and 
were named from Marseilles, Chios, Argos, Sinope, C)'prus, 
and Crete. Others were styled at xar* aF^, and bore the 
names of individuals, as of Antimachus of Colophon and 
Aristotle. As to the civic copies Wolf believes that, though 
they came from Chios or Massilia, they need not have been 
made specially and by public demand for these states. We 
talk of the Venice manuscript now without meaning that 

' Cf. Ludwich, Aristarchs Homcrischc Tcxtkritiks ii. 448, note 
409, against Fick. 

- Ludwich, Arisiarchs Homcrischc Te,xtkrilik\ ii. 458. Leipzig, 

* Op. cit, ii. 438. * Wolf, p. clxxii. 

wolf's 'nonsense' 75 

it was written for the Venetian commonwealth. However 
this may be, it is certain that the Marseilles text, for ex- 
ample, differed very little indeed from that of Aristarchus. 
The scholia cite the Marseilles reading frequently : it varies 
from that of Aristarchus, when it does differ, only in matters 
of grammatical mint and cumin. If Wolf were right, we 
should expect to find whole passages of entirely different 
tenor, omissions and additions, added graces, and de- 
formities purged. 

But the differences in Alexandrian texts are really of 
little more importance than the errors which have already 
crept into the poems of Scott, and even into the novels of 
Thackeray. One could point out in Pcndennis a passage 
that might keei) all Germany busy with conjectures and 
emendations. It is true that we do not know the date of 
the * ancient texts ' mentioned by the scholiasts, nor even the 
dates of the Chian and Massiliot texts. But, earlier or 
later, they did not differ as two versions of Annan Water 
or of Clerk Saundtrs differ. The fortunes of Homer's text 
had ceased to be subject to the greater incidents of time 
and taste before the age of the Alexandrian critics. 

Wolf maintains that even these critics preferred the 
guidanceof their own taste to sedulous comparison of manu- 
scripts (ccxxxi). I^'hrs refuses to believe this. He finds 
among Alexandrines, and among their pupils, the Romans, 
'a most sedulous use of manuscrii)ts.' ' In fact, Lehrs 
asserts that Wolfs remarks on this topic are *pure nonsense.* '^ 
And he is right. 

Wolf says, * I do not wish my remarks to be taken as if 
I were denying that good and careful Alexandrine editors 
used ancient and the best manuscripts, and sought, by 
comparing them, to find the genuine text. But that was 

' De Aristarchi Stiidiis Ilomen'cisy p. 345. Leipzig, 1882. 
» Op, cie, p. 351. 


* genuine * which seemed most worthy of the poet. This, 
as ever)-one sees, brings the whole matter to depend on 
the ingenuity and judgment of the Alexandrians,' But he 
had already denied that the Alexandrine critics resembled 
our Bentley, and Valckener. I^rs says, * they could not 
both seek the genuine reading by comixirison of old and 
excellent manuscripts, and also abuse their private judg- 
ment.' AA'e have, indeed, one passage where Aristarchus 
declared that an emendation would get rid of a difficulty, 
but he declined to make it, because he found the reading 
(which involves an inconsistency in the narrative) in most 
of the manuscripts.* If Aristarchus erred at all, in I^hrs's 
opinion, it was through too great caution, not through 
audacity.'- We are not very much concerned with one 
omission of four lines, by Aristarchus, if indeed, which is 
more than doubtful, Aristarchus was he who Bowdlerised 
the speech of Phoenix. Clearly we have come, in the age 
of the Alexandrians, to a time when Homer's text could 
suffer little from carelessness, or misplaced cleverness. 

^^'e can now look back on Wolfs great work as a whole. 
Briefly his ihcor)-— as far as he has a coherent theory — is that 
writing was not used for literar)- purposes when first the 
Homeric lays were sung, nor for hundreds of years afterwards. 
That, through these hundreds of years, the lays floated in 
the memor)- of rhapsodes, who, being also poets, altered and 
added to them at will. Then they were reduced to writing, 
for the first time, in the age of Pisislratus. Then various 
copies were made, all vitiated by the caprice of the 
copyists. Then the age of Aristarchus revised the manu- 
scripts, and finally gave the polish and unity which many 
modern commentators deny that the epics possess. 

In answer to all this we have argued that wTiting is not 

' Iliad, ix. 222. Fur other examples, Lehn>, of. liL \\ 354. 
' Lchn>, p. 357. 


proved to have been of such late use that it may not possibly 
have been employed even by the original poet. We have 
demonstrated that poets may write, and have written, when 
there was no reading public for their works. We have 
shown that about the rhapsodes, and their treatment of the 
epics, whether conservative or wilful, nothing is historically 
known. Without calling the Pisistratus hypothesis *a fable ' 
like Ludwich, we have shown that the anecdote rests on no 
certain foundation. It is unlikely, as Volkmann remarks, 
that the rhapsodes, if they depended on their exclusive 
knowledge of Homer for their bread, would give up their 
one treasure to Pisistratus. But, however that may be, the 
story is without authentic contemporary evidence, and is 
discredited by the silence of all those who could scarcely 
have omitted to record it. As to the supposed capricious 
changes in manuscripts after Pisistratus, we have no proof of 
them. The faulty citations of Plato and Aristotle may be 
compared to the quotations of English poetry by Scott, who 
frankly confessed that he did not know what was borrowed 
and what was his own. * As for separating what is original 
from what is borrowed, I am sure it is far Ijeyond my own 
power, and probably that of anyone else.' * Finally, the 
aesthetic caprice in alteration attributed to Aristarchus by 
Wolf is plainly an error on the part of the great German 

Thus the whole argument of Wolf no longer holds water. 
It did not even convince himself, when he read the epics 
' for human pleasure,' as Fitzgerald says we should read, not 
through the microscope of the critic. Modern discoveries 
liave destroyed his premises, as far as writing is concerned, 
and, as to the Alexandrians, later scholars are at variance 
with him. If we can free ourselves from the strong grasp of 

* .Scott to Constable, May 28, 1 822. Archihahi Constable and his 
Literary Correspondents ^ iii. 223, 


Wolf, and admit an early written text, we need no complex 
and elaborate theory to explain the existence of the epics. 
A text sacredly preserved, and only suffering from such 
accidents as, in such an age, all texts were subject to, is all 
that we need. If, on the other hand, we admit early texts, 
we are still not free from the danger of large interpolations, 
additions, omissions. But the scholars who believe in these 
will have to show how, and when, and why they were com- 
posed, and, above all, how and when they gained general 
acceptance. When they reject, as most of them do, the 
Pisistratean hypothesis, or something akin to it, their 
position is the more perilous.* 

' On p. 65 the story of the Dowr}*, ihe Cypria^ given by Homer to 
his (laughter is called • ancient.- For Pindar's knowletlge of it Wila- 
niowitz Mollendorff \pp, cil. 352) cites Pindar (Frai^m, 1S9, liocckh). 
That passage, however, is a granimarian's statement ; we have not the 
words of IHndar. As tt) Alexandrian texts of Homer, in the O/z/z/m^,'"- 
Jtam JfemoirSy Koyal Irish Academy, N\». viii. on the Flinders Pelrie 
Papyri (Dublin 1891} is a fragment, iii. 4. It contain*^ the ends of 
lines \i. 502-517, and beginnings <»f 518-537. There are live lines in 
the fragment not in our text of the ixi^sage. (^n the other hand lines 
5-9 530 ^"■^J replaced in the fragment by one broken line l>eginning 
KJifpoi. This would have gladdenetl the heart of Wolf. In htdex 
I^itionum in R^^;. Acad, AWrrt. (1892), Luilwich argues against the 
importance \^{ the discover}- as an example of a * pre-Alcxamlrian ' 



In examining Wolfs theory we have purposely neglected his 
argument that the unity and composition of the Iliad 
(oljviously inconsistent with the hypothesis of multiplex 
authorship) are no such great matter after all. Nor have we 
dwelt on his extraordinary assertion that the composition of 
the Odyssey is at once the proudest monument of theCJreek 
genius, and a thing which might easily be produced by joining 
together separate lays which accidentally happened to fit. 
* Chance loves Art, and Art, Chance/ but not ' so wildly well ' 
as \Volf*s second theory, of a fortuitous Odyssey, requires. 
These questions of composition are literary questions, to 
l)e decided by literary taste, and can only be approached 
in the course of a somewhat minute study of the Epics. 

In criticising the comp)osition of the Iliad we should never 
forget, what critics are so unused to remember, that Homer 
never sang foi* //lem. The belief which his audience of 
warriors and ladies accorded to his songs * did not wholly 
depend/ as Mr. Payne Knight says, * on subtle consistencies. 
The old l)ards were not singing for minute inquirers and 
grammarians, but for people who freely, and even recklessly, 
^ave i)lay to their fancies as they listened.' ' 

* Payne Knight, ProUgofiiena^ p. xxiii. 



80 MR. leaf's theory 

Never yet was a fiction composed in which holes could 
not be picked, and the works of modem novelists constantly 
exhibit discrepancies which any careful reader, or even a 
careless reader, can detect. But nobody thinks of explain- 
ing these errors (as when the moon is a crescent in the 
beginning of a chapter, and is full moon at the end thereof), 
by a theor)' of multiple authorship, or interpolation. Much 
less is it necessary to bring foni-ard this theor)', whenever 
the epic poet makes an error, or lapses into lines which 
strike an Alexandrian or a modern critic as * unworth)-.' 
^^^lether the poet could write or could not write, he 
certainly had no proof-sheets and no revises. 

Before examining the structure of the Iliad, book by 
lK)ok, we may consider, as an English example of modern 
critical theories, the hypothesis of Mr. Walter Leaf, as set 
forth in his edition of the Iliad (London, 1886- 1888), and 
in his Companion to the Iliad (1892). He puts his ideas as 
' hj-pothetical and tentative * merely. In his theory, as in 
Mr. Grote's, * the original poem, the work of " Homer *' 
himself, was the Mr^n? 'AxtAActo? ' (" The Wrath of Achilles *'), 
* which related in comparatively brief l)ut undying form the 
story of the quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon, the defeat 
of the Greeks in consequence of the prayer of Thetis to 
Zeus, the partial relenting of Achilles, leading to the death 
of I'atroklos, the final arousing of the hero, and the death of 
Hektor.* The original Wrath, disengaged as far as possible 
from the rest of the Iliad, consists of book i., book ii. 1-53, 
443-483, book XI. 56 805, or perhaps to the end, omitting 
665-762, the battle at the ships, now inextricably, or perhaps 
(vol. ii. Introduction) «/^/ inextricably entangled in xii. xiii. 
xiv. XV. ; the greater part of xvi., the first jiKirt of xviii. are 
altered and rehandled ; pieces of xi.\., parts of xx. and xxi., 
and the killing of Hector in xxii. 

Into this * first and greatest of epic poems * additions 

MR. leaf's theory 8 1 

came. They certainly seem to have been needed. What 
is called 'the female interest' was entirely absent from 
Mr. Leafs first and greatest of epic poems. His Homer 
knew Chryseis and Briseis, but Helen did not come into 
his tale, nor Andromache. The poem certainly reads the 
l>etter for them, the richer, the more pathetic, though Mr. 
Leaf thinks * all the dramatic interest of the story ' exists 
— without them, and without Priam, and his interview with 
Achilles after Hector's death. The additions probably 
began, he supposes, with the exploits of Diomede (v.), the 
introduction of Andromache (vi.), the single combat in vii. 
Later came the scene on the Trojan walls, and the duel of 
Menelaus and Paris (iii.), the Broken Truce (iii. iv.), the 
Assembly (ii.). All these may be by the original poet, 
afterthoughts of Homer. In 1888 (vol. ii. Introduction) 
Mr. l^eaf thought this less probable than he did in 1886. 
To the objection that the theory requires several great 
I>oets, identical in manner, and that such poets do not occur 
in history, Mr. I^eaf replies that poets usually appear in 
groups, as in Athens, the Elizabethan age, we might add 
the In^inning of this centur)-, and so on. Certainly poets 
seem to come in groups, but one star varielh from another 
in glory, and, as we have said, Marlowe could not be 
mistaken for Shakspeare, nor Scott for Miss Austen, nor 
Quinault for Moliere. Mr. Matthew Arnold, on this 
ground, disbelieved in the niultipJe authorship of the 
epics, and this is the great literary argument for a single 

In the Introduction to his second volume Mr. Leaf offers, 
in a tabulated form, the result of his inquiries. 

There are five strata in the Iliad. The first is the 
original iK>em, some 3,400 lines in length. Then cume the 
earlier expansions ; it is very doubtful if these are by Homer. 
Then appear later expansions, as in xviii. the Making of the 

82 MR. leaf's theory 

Arms, and in viii. the Building of the Wall. Some of these are 
akin to the Odj'ssey. The fourth class contains the Greater 
Interpolations, as the episode of Phcenix : passages al)out 
Nestor, the Battle of the Gods, the Games. The fifth 
category chiefly contains the junciuncy by which pieces of 
different ages were tacked together. Mr. I^*af admits * the 
extreme uncertainty ' of his scheme. 

As to the date of at least the original portions of the 
poems, and the first additions, Mr. Leaf thinks it extremely 
remote. He assigns it to the time when the beehive tombs 
of Mycenae were erected. The iK>cm, in its oldest |)arts, is 
Achaean, was composed before the Dorian invasion, and on 
the mainland of Greece, not in Asia. It does not appear 
that Mr. Leaf has faith in an early written text. 

It rather seems to be his opinion that the original 
* Wrath 'was composed by the aid of memory alone, and 
was i)reserved, added to, interpolated, and generally licked 
into or out of shape by the Homeridx. As Mr. Leaf does 
not give credence to ihe Pisistratean hypothesis, it is not 
easy to understand how or when the later interpolations at 
least managed to find acceptance. A\'hy many of them were 
introduced, how they were imposed on Greece, who gave 
its final form to the Iliad, and when, we do not learn. The 
discrepancies are perhaps less puzzling if we regard them as 
inadvertences of a poet, than if we have to account for their 
escaping the sedulous attention of the Homerida*. Oppor- 
tunities of discussing those questions will arise as we ex- 
amine the books of the i)oems in detail. It may Ixi re- 
marked, however, that, compared with l^ichmann and 
Wolf, Mr. Leaf is conservative. The poem is very old, it 
has a large nucleus of original work. In fact, the theory is 
a modification of Mr. G rote's, though less conservative, and 
|)erhaps more fanciful. 

Taking the Iliad book by book, we find that the first 


opens with a prologue, in which the Muse is bidden to .sing 
of the wrath of Achilles, Peleus' son, *and so the counsel of 
Zeus wrought 'out its accomplishment.' It is no more 
necessary that the poet should sing the wrath, the whole 
wrath, and nothing but the wrath, than that Milton, in 
Paradise Lost^ should describe nothing but * man's first 
disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree.' But a 
pedantic holding of the epic poet to the letter of his bond 
is a source of much modern disintegrative criticism. When 
he describes the Trojan side of affairs, Helen, Paris, Piiam, 
he is thought to wander from his chosen topic, as if a poem 
of the Wrath could be complete without a picture of the 
persons whose passions caused the leaguer of Ilios. As we 
shall see later, a critic (German) actually denies that the 
Burial of ihe Dead is part of the original poem, because, in 
the prologue, the bodies of the heroes arc said to be a prey- 
to dogs and birds, and so could not have been buried ! 

The prologue ended, the cause of the strife between 
Agamemnon and Achilles is set forth. Chryses, priest of 
Apollo, had a daughter, Chryseis, whom Agamemnon held 
as a cai)tive in war. Chryses, imploring for her freedom, 
was^ insulted by Agamemnon. He prayed to Apollo ; for 
nine days the arrows of the god ranged in the camp. On 
the tenth day Achilles called a general assembly. At his 
request Calchas reluctantly explained the cause of the arrows 
of pestilence. Chryseis must be returned, with due sacri- 
fice of a hecatomb, as the atonement to Apollo. Agamemnon 
offered to send back the damsel, but asked for another 
* prize of honour.' Achilles, calling him covetous, promised 
him his recompense when next a city of Trojan allies was 
taken. Agamemnon, with a dark threat of seizing the 
damsel of Achilles, proposed at once to restore Chryseis. 
Achilles says he will return home to Phthia, if he loses his 
meed of honour. Agamemnon boasts that he has others as 

G 2 


good as Achilles, and has Zeus to aid him. lie will take 
Briseis, the mistress of Achilles. Achilles, about to draw 
his sword, is restrained by Athene, who is sent by Hera 
from Olympus (lines 194-5). Athene bids him put up his 
sword ; on a later day threefold atonement will be made to 
him in goodly gifts. This is a prophetic reference to the 
disputed book ix. (line 213). Achilles sheathes his sword, 
but tells Agamemnon that his arm will be sorely missed in 
the day of the triumph of Hector (line 242). Both heroes 
illustrate the irony of fortune. Agamemnon relies on his 
chiefs, and on Zeus. But the god is to prove hostile, the 
heroes are to be wounded and fail him. Achilles boasts of 
the day of the wrath of Hector, which is to be mortal to his 
own friend, Patroclus. Nestor in vain soothes them, and, the 
assembly breaking up, Odysseus goes to carry Chr)'seis to 
her father (line 311). Agamemnon now sends his heralds 
to lead away the lady of Achilles, Briseis. Achilles appeals 
to his mother, the sea goddess Thetis, complaining that he is 
to have short life, and now has dishonour. After rei>eating, 
in the epic manner, the whole tale of his wrong, he bids her 
seek Zeus, and pray him to succour the Trojans till the 
Achxans are slaughtered among the sterns of their ships 
(line 409). Thetis weeps for her child, but tells him that 
* Zeus went yesterday to a feast with the Ethiopians, and all 
the gods followed with him ' (line 423). On the twelfth 
day Zeus will return to Olympus, and Thetis will kneel to 
him. Thetis leaves her son, and (line 43c) Odysseus 
arrives in Chr>'se with the hecatomb and the damsel. From 
line 430 to 487 the proceedings at Chryse are described in 
a set of epic formulx ; the mooring of the ship, the ritual 
of the sacrifice, the feast, the sleep by the seashore, the 
raising of the mast, the return, are all minutely set forth. 
Achilles nurses his wrath and abstains from war (lines 488- 
492) ; when the twelfth morn thereafter ' was come (line 


493), the gods return to Olympus. It may be remarked that, 
though Achilles has shunned the fight for eleven days, no 
particular disadvantage seems to have befallen the Achceans, 
nor are the Trojans in any way encouraged. But this is not 
singular, if the Trojans were ignorant of the cause of the 
hero's absence. Doubtless he had often been at a distance 
before, in his attacks on allied cities. Thetis mounts up to 
Olympus, and prays Zeus to honour Achilles by granting 
victory to the Trojans. Zeus, after a long silence, says that 
his assent will embroil him with Hera, the partisan of the 
Achaians. However, he will * take thought for those things 
to fulfil them,' and attests his promise with a nod. The 
promise is rather diplomatic : Zeus will take the petition into 
his most serious consideration. Hera taunts Zeus, and 
hints that he has promised to do honour to Achilles, and 
harm the Greeks. 'If it be so,* says Zeus, * then such 
must my good pleasure be.* Hephaestus tries to restore 
good humour. All go to sleep, though * Zeus was not 
holden of sweet sleep,* but lay awake in thought.* 

Simple as all this appears, Lachmann found in it a string 
of contradictions and anomalies, and decided that the book 
was a patchwork of smaller lays. The line 423, amont; 
other things, is a contradiction. The gods had all left 
Olympus, yet Athene was present with Achilles ; Hera sent 
her to him from Olympus (lines 194-5). I'hat day of the 
counsel was the tenth of Apollo*s fatal archery ; if Apollo 
was in Ethiopia, how could he also be dealing darts of 
pestilence under Troy? (48, 96, 97). In line 474, Apollo 
is delighted with the music at Chr)'se : but Apollo is with 
the Ethiopians ! A god is not a bird, to be in two places at 
once. Lachmann therefore finds three elements in book i. 
namely : 1-347 ; next, 430-492 ; finally, 348-429 plus 
493-611. A number of scholars, as Haupt, Naeke, Lauer, 

' I*ook ii. 2. 


Kochly agree, with slight modifications, in this opinion. 
Kochly particularly blames the doings of Odysseus at Chr)*se 
as a worthless mixture of reminiscences and epic formulae. 
The contradiction about the gods, in Ethiopia or at home, is 
ascribed to a rhapsode, who had matter to introduce and 
who forgot what went Ijefore. Ribl)eck finds in it the hand 
of a Diaskeuast. On the other hand it is argued that the 
divine feast in Ethiopia gives Achilles time to nurse his 
wrath ; that the scene in Chryse is a happy relief to the more 
vehement action ;and Gerlach sees that contradictions al)out 
the gods, their omnipotence and omnipresence, Iwth very 
limited, are inevitable in mytholog)-. The contradiction 
about the presence of the gods, in one place or another, is 
a mere oversight of the original poet*s. Such slips are 
common enough «n all fictitious narratives. Diintzer has 
observed that, even in the original lays of I^chmann and 
Naekc, as by them constituted, there are other contradic- 
tions (382, 423). In 382 Apollo is sending baneful shafts, 
though (423) he is in Ethiopia. Contradictions usually 
increase as we try to disintegrate the poem. In Mr. Leafs 
handling of book i. he leaves all intact up to line 429. 
The passage now doubted (429 493) contains, as we saw, 
the expedition of Odysseus to ('hryse, with all that he did 
there. Why should this be omitted ? First, because, when 
the passage is completed, the poem goes on : 

dAX' art brj p' ^k to7o 5uu;8«iran} yivtr' »;«;, 

* Now, when the twelfth morning thereafter was come,* 
then the gods returned from their twelve days' sojourn with 
the Ethiopians, which had begun on the day before the 
poem opens. The * vagueness' of this reference *is 
certainly not what we shuuld expcnrt.' One fails to see that 
the reference, if vague, is [Kirticularly astonishing. * Further, 
the whole episode can be cut out without being missed, and 
is of no importance to the story.* Again, about half of the 

'RUNS* 87 

lines are found in other parts of the Homeric poems. Once 
more, after the company of Odysseus has had its fill of 
eating and drinking, then (469-70) * the young men 
crowned the bowls with wine, and gave each man his 
portion after the drink offering had been poured into the 
cups.' * The difficulty here is that the lil)ation is mentioned 
when the drink offering is ended, contrary to the custom.' 

In answer it may be remarked that Homer's manner is 
not to spare us anything. His audience wanted to know 
*all about it.* They would not have l)een contented with- 
out hearing exactly how the sacrifice was done, and the god 
was appeased. We do not miss this detail, but Homer 
was not addressing a nineteenth century audience, but an 
audience whose taste in epic was like that of the New 

Again, about half the lines occur elsewhere in Homer, 
but the reason of that is plain. The descriptions of the 
voyage, landing, and sacrifice, make what is called a * run ' 
in Celtic poetr)' and story.^ A * sea run ' in a Highland 
oral version l>egins 

They gave her prow to the sea, and her stern to shore, 
They hoisted the speckled, flapping, hare-topped sails 
Up against her tall, tough splintering masts, 

and so forth. This answers to an Homeric * run ' : * then 
they cast out the mooring stones, and made fast the hawsers, 
and so themselves went forth on the sea beach,' and similar 
rei)eated descriptions. The taste of the Maoris, as of the 
Homeric Greeks and the Celts, submits to those repealed 
descriptions. Probably they were at first a rest for the 
memory of the reciter. Mr. Leaf regards much of the piece 
as * an unskilfully made cento,' '^ although he has previously 

' See, for exani])le, in Hyde's Beside the Fire (Nutt & Co., 
London, 1S91, pj). xxv. xxviii. ); cp. CampbelPs Popular Tales, vol. 
ii. p. Ivi. 

'^ Iliad, i. 2S, note on ; 471. 



said that * the whole episode is most artistically introduced,' 
and * might have been inteipolated at any time by a poet 
of sufficient artistic feeling to see his opportunity.' * That 
an artistic poet should have seized his opportunit}* to add 
* an unskilfully made canto ' seems curious enough. There 
remains the objection to 469-70, that *the libation is made 
when the drinking is ended, contrary to the rule.* But Mr. 
Leaf is, of course, aware that lil)ation was made aficr a 
drinking, as well as l)efore one. * Now that the feast is 
over, go ye home and rest,' says Alcinous in the Odyssey,* 
and we read, *Now, when they had poured forth' (that is 
made libation) *and drunk to their hearts* content, they 
went each one to his own home to lav them to rest. But 
Odysseus was left l)ehind in the halls.* The last cup was 
usually i)oured out in libation to Hermes. There is thus, 
perhaps, nothing contrar)' to Homeric custom in the pass- 
age. Indeed, a critic of the new sort might *athetise' and 
reject as spurious Mr. Leafs own remarks. In one place 
he calls the episode * artistic,* and says it * is most artistically 
introduced.* In another place much of the episode is *an 
unskilfullv made cento,* not only unskilful, but so late that 
the poet does not even any longer understand the Homeric 
customs which he means to describe. I'cw of the rejected 
Homeric inconsistencies are so inconsistent as those obser- 
vations of the commentator.^ 

Thus, on the whole, we need have no great scruple 
al)out retaining all the First Book. It does not cut up well 
into * lays ' ; the inconsistencies are very natural and i>ardon- 

' Iliad, i. 2. 

- vii. 1S7. The line in Iliad, i. 471, recurs in Odyssey, vii. 1S3. 

In Imth cases the rite ends the festival. 

' In his Compamon to the Iliad ^ Mr. Leaf regards the arguments 
for interpolation here as * not quite decisive.' 


able, and if we are told that the voyage to Chryse was a 
late addition, we may ask what motive can the interpolator 
have had, and how did his contribution find acceptance, if 
the poem is just as excellent without it ? The poem is not 
so excellent without 47, 4S, * And the arrows clanged on 
the shoulders of the god in his going, as he descended like 
the Night,' which Alexandrian and German critics, with 
Bentley, wish to remove ! 


With the Second Book the serious difficulties begin. The 
plot is decidedly not lucid as it stands ; whether the sug- 
gested rearrangements improve it is another question. *'\s 
it stands, the poem now introduces us to the anny, and its 
frame of mind after the long siege. It leads up to prepara- 
tions for a general battle, and ends with the catalogue, or 
muster roll, the Domesday book of heroic Greece. The 
disintegrators, however, regard this book as the beginning 
of distracting episodes, and wish to leave out the bulk of it, 
and all that follows till book xi., where they discover the 
continuation of their hypothetical original poem on the 

* Wrath of Achilles.' They have some trouble in cflcctin^i; 
\S\Q junctura. 

The second book opens with the statement that Zeus 
was wakeful, though (i. 611) he is said to have slept. 'I'his 

* inconsistency ' is not worth a moment's notice. He 

* slept ' may mean merely * he lay,* or * passed the night ' 
l)eside Hera. Or anxiety as to how he was to * honour 
Achilles and destroy many l)eside the Achaean ships ' may 
have wakened him again. He determined to send a deceit- 
ful dream, promising victory to Agamemnon, and bringing 
on an engagement (8-15). Agamemnon woke (41) in 
hope of victor)', dressed himself in the garb of peace, a soft 
tunic, cloak, and sandals, not in armour, look his sword 


and sceptre, and went to the ships (41-47). Day dawned ; 
Agamemnon hade the heralds call an assemhly ; * so did 
those summon, and these gathered with speed' (50-53). 
Agamemnon^s costume is a point to \ye remembered, in 
view of separatist arguments. 

Agamemnon now told the chiefs in council the story of 
his dream, and how he had called the assembly. But he 
added that he would first make trial of the army's temper 
by suggesting retreat, while the chiefs should urge staying 
and fighting (72-75). Cortes, in Mexico, made a similar 
experiment, with success : but the conduct of Agamemnon 
is decidedly injudicious. Nestor said a dream of Aga- 
memnon's was worth some attention, and the assembly 
met. In a long speech, Agamemnon proposed retreat. 
The host rose like one man, l)efore any could interfere, rose 
like sudden waves under a sudden wind, and made for the 
ships. Hera hastily sent Athene to bid Odysseus arrest the 
movement, Odysseus of the hardy heart, standing in mute 
indignation. Odysseus hurr.'ed about among the rushing 
throng, l>eating some, advising others, proclaiming that 
Agamemnon did but make trial of their temper. They 
returned to the assembly ; and now comes the famous 
intervention and chastisement of the one demagogue in 
Homer, Thersitcs. He is l)eaten (265). Odysseus arises, 
reminds the host of favourable prodigies and prophecies 
when they left home, but says nothing of the dream, though 
he refers to private words of Agamemnon when he was 
driving the host to the assembly. Nestor adds a speech 
with an apparently idle counsel of adopting a new model, 
by arranging clan with clan, and tribe with tribe in battle. 
Agamemnon repents his quarrel with Achilles, and sends 
the host to arm. He then sacrifices, and prays he may take 
Troy ere nightfall. The host is then summoned, and the 
muster rolls of Greeks and Trojans are descril)ed in long 


catalogues. So ends the hook. Mr. Leaf ohjects to all 
this that the dream has nothing to do with the development 
of the story. Agamemnon would naturally attack at once, 
in force, and be disappointed. His ruse, his counsel of 
retreat, could only be justified by success. The description 
of the council is meagre, and (naturally) is made up of 
lines found elsewhere. The chiefs do not argue against 
Agamemnon — verily they had no time to argue. Except 
Odysseus, alway the staunchest of men, they were carried 
away by the tide of retreat. 

Mr. Leaf at first made the delusive dream be followed 
by the arming of Agamemnon, and his great deeds in 
book xi., omitting the nine books that intervene. But, 
when the Iliad was enlarged, a poet wished, M)y a stroke of 
the highest art,* to show us the whole host ; so he made 
Agamemnon seriously advise flight. The art of making 
him do so, when he is in the brightest mood of hope, owing 
to his dream, seems far from high. Consequently, this poet 
probably dropped the dream ; but * it was still left in its 
place, in order to form an introduction to book xi., if it 
were desired to recite that poem immediately after book i. : 
that is to say, the dream would lead straight to Agamemnon's 
arming and his heroic feats.' But book ii. and others were 
added, and *to bridge over the obvious inconsistency 
between the despair of Agamemnon and the promise of 
Zeus, the council scene was interpolated, and the serious 
advice of Agamemnon ' (to retreat) *was turned into a mere 
fictitious attempt to sound the feeling of the army.' How 
is the junction of books ii. and xi. to be made ? 

Mr. Ixjaf offered two suggestions. Perhaps wc should 
stop in book ii. at line 41, where Agamemnon * awoke 
from sleep and the heavenly voice was in his ears.' Thence 
we pick up book xi. at line 1 7, * first he put his fair 
greaves about his legs,' and went on arming himself. Or 


92 kick's happy thought 

there is an alternative plan of Pick's. We take the fifty- 
sixth line of book xi., and join it to line 483 of book ii., 
which originally followed book ii., line 51. The original 
poem would then run thus: Agamemnon has seen the 
dream, and, in high hope, gets up, puts on morning clothes, 
a tunic, a cloak, sandals, takes his sceptre, and bids the 
heralds call the Achjeans not to council, but to war. There 
is this trifling objection that, when Agamemnon in the 
second book (ii. 51) calls the Greeks to council^ he naturally 
does not wear his armour. But, if we adopt Pick's own 
plan, Agamemnon puts on his clothes of peace when he is 
about summoning the Greeks to war, Fick now reads 
thus : — 

*(ii. 41.) Then woke he from sleep, and the heavenly 
voice was in his cars. So he rose up, sitting, and donned 
his soft tunic fair and bright, and cast around him his great 
cloak, and beneath his glistering feet he bound his fair 
sandals, and over his shoulder cast his silver-studded sword, 
and grasped his sire's sceptre, imperishable for ever, where- 
with he took his way amid the mailclad Achaeans' ships. 
Now went the goddess Dawn to high Olympus, foretelling 
daylight to Zeus and all the immortals, and the king l)ade 
the clear- voiced heralds summon to war ' (in the ixissage 
as it stands in Homer it is to council— ^a change of one word 
is made) * the flowing-haired Achiean.s.' Then (skipping 
to l)ook ii., line 443), * so these summoned, and those gathered 
in all speed.' The jxissage, of the gathering of armed 
Achaeans, is continued to line 483, where the catalogue of 
the ships begins. This and most that follows for nine whole 
books, is ' cut,' till we reach l)ook xi., line 56, where it runs 
on, * but the Trojans, on the other side, gathered them 
around great Hector,' and, all in bronze, they fall to fighting, 
* and in rushed Agamemnon, first of all, and slew a man.' 

Was ever such a correction seen I Agamemnon, accord- 

MR. leaf's last scheme 93 

ing to this suggestion of the learned Kick, wakes from his 
dream, dresses in a soft doublet, takes no defensive armour 
nor spear, but a peaceful sceptre, calls the armed assembly, 
meets the Trojans, leads the charge, slays many men with 
the spear (which he had not got), and is finally wounded 
and retreats. The idea of an Homeric chief going into 
battle in a soft doublet is unheard of. If ever there were 
ignorance of Homeric custom and costume, it would be in 
the p)oet who sang thus, yet he, ex hypothesis is ' the original 
Homer,* and the epic, thus queerly reconstructed, is the 
original M^i'ts ! * Mr. Leafs own first idea is clearly the 

In his Companion (p. 30), Mr. Leaf suggests much 
the best transition from ii. to xi. The sequence is ii. 1-52, 
ii. 442-483. Then ii. 786-810, the Trojans meet, hear of 
the Greek armaments, and fly to arms. Thence we pass to 
xi. 61, where Hector comes on the scene. By this plan, it 
is urged, Agamemnon is neither more nor less armed than 
in the Iliad as we possess it. To thiswc may reply that, as 
the Iliad stands, Agamemnon, in dress of peace, calls a 
I>eaceful council, but orders men to arm in ii. 382-4, which 
Mr. Leaf excises. This command to arm corresponds to 
i\. 808, where the Trojans, who had met in peace, * rushed 
to their arms.* Leaving the question of arming out of 
sight, Mr. Leaf's final plan makes Agamemnon dream an 
important dream, and say nothing to anyone about it. Vet ' 
* the hopes of the Greeks rise high, as the exploits of 
Agamemnon seem to fulfil the promise of the delusive 
dream,' which, unluckily, they knew nothing about. For 
these reasons we prefer Homer to the reconstructed Mr/ns. 

It will have been observed that Mr. Leaf does not think 
the catalogue of the ships in book ii. part of the original 

^ Die Homer isc he Ilias. Gollingen, 1886. 
* Companion, pp. 201-2. 


poem. That may In; left for subsequent consideration. We 
must now see what it is that Mr. Leaf denies to the original 
{K)et and the original ixjem between book ii. 51 and 
book xi. 61. First, as already said, in *the original Mijiis/ 
as reconstructed by Mr. Leaf, the dream of Agamemnon 
is never more referred to. Agamemnon does not mention 
it to his peers. Now, die Homeric characters are very fond 
of telling their dreams, especially when the dreams are of 
the first imiK>rtance as indications of the will of the gods. 
Agamemnon tells his in the Iliad as we have received it ; 
in Mr. Leafs Mijits there is nothing of the sort. For the 
rest, Mr. I^af himself expresses a justifiable uncertainty as 
to what portions of our Iliad not in the original Mi^rts are 
later additions by the original poet himself. * The earlier 
pieces of this class may perhaps be referred to the poet of 
the M»7ris, though I now feel much more doubt as to this 
than is expressed in the Introduction to vol. i.' * Here, of 
course, we are puzzled to know how criticism can discern 
additions to a iHJcm made by the i>oet himself. Again, we 
cannot understand why he should l>e supposed not to have 
composed all his jx>em en bloc. As to additions, we i>ossess 
a modern example. Lord Tennyson 4irst wrote the Mortc 
dWrthnr^ an epic fragment. Then, many years later, he 
wrote the first volume of JJylls of the Kiftir, Then, again 
many years later, he filled u[) the interstices with The luisf 
Toitniament^ Pel leas and Ettarrc. The Last Battle in the 
J Test, and The Tassini,^ 0/ Arthur, As we know all about 
ihis, we can detect diflcrences of style in the laureate's 
complete work, l^ut, if wc did nut know, and if the 
Laureate's work were in a foreign language, three thousand 
years old, critics might come to many various and to no 
certain conclusions. This is Homer's case. We know no- 
thing about the conditions of his literar}- comi)osition, and 

' lliad^ vol. it p. X. 


we can only guess vaguely and vainly at what he himself 
may have added to his work. Mr. Leaf, himself, in his 
second volume, doubts very much whether the poet added 
at all. 


Even extreme advocates for the disintegration of the 
Iliad accept a few lines^f book ii., though they are not very 
certain which of them to admit, and though their task would 
be easier if they excised the whole canto. But these critics 
cither, with Mr. Grote, cut out all that follows, from iii. to 
viii. or, with Fick ajid Mr. Leaf, from iii. to xi. Mr. Leaf 
regards much of the intervening work as early additions, 
possibly, though not probably, by the original poet. The 
arguments against this wholesale excision arc obvious. 
Either Homer must be kept to the letter of his bond, his 
epic must sing of the wrath of Achilles and the promise of 
Zeus, and nothing else, or we may suppose that he describes 
the whole war as affected by the wrath of Achilles. In the 
former case, books iii. to xi. cannot be original, for in them 
the wrath is but little in question, the promise of Zeus is 
only maturing. If m^ take this view, we have scarce any 
difficulty to meet, except that of believing in at least two 
poets of equal transcendent merit and equally skilled in *thc 
grand style.' One of these i)oets, the author of books iii 
and vi., gave us Helen and Andromache, those peerless 
peers in womanhood. Now the question whether we can 
believe in two poets equally great, and equally masters of 
the grand style, is a matter for the judgment and imagina- 
tion of every reader to decide. Mr. Matthew Arnold could 
not believe in two poets of this mark; Mr. Leaf and Mr. 
Grote can believe. Arguments are here of no avail. 

On the other hand, again private opinion is the sole 
test and standard. Does it tax our credulity to suppose that 


a minstrel, who announced his intention of singing the 
wrath of Achilles, might be better than his word- might 
show us also the causes of the war, the women who wept, 
and the great deeds of the men, other than Achilles, who 
fought ? AN'hoever cannot admit the probability of such a 
|>oetical endeavour, and who, at the same time, can believe 
in the existence of several poets equally transcen<}ent, may 
cut out books iii. to viii., or iii. to xi., as his taste and 
fancy determine. 

There are thus several contending parties, as regards the 
originality of this part of the Iliad, and, first, as regards 
lx)ok iii. There are those who, with Fick and Mr. Leaf 
and Mr. Grote, deny its originality. There are those who, 
with Bergk and others, find passages here by the original 
minstrel, other passages by a later poet, others, again, by 
a diaskcuast, or comparatively late interi>olator. There are 
also the faithful who accept books iii. to xi. as Homer's 
own work : not necessarily word for word as he composed 
it, but as substantially his own. 

The matter of the Ixwk may be stated thus. In lines 
1-14, the hostile armies are opix>sing each other. In lines 
15-30, Paris challenges any Achaean to single fight : Mene- 
laus accepts. Lines 15-75, conscience or timidity makes 
Paris a coward ; Hector upbraids him, Paris takes heart, 
and offers to stake Helen and her wealth on the issue of the 
duel. Lines 75-1 10, Hector carries his challenge, which is 
accepted, and an armistice follows. Lines 110-120, Hector 
sends to Troy to bring Priam, and two lambs for sacrifice. 
Lines 120 244, Iris bids Helen go to Priam on the wall. 
She finds him there with the Trojan elders, and describes 
to him several of the Achaean chiefs. Lines 245 264, the 
messenger from the army takes Paris to the field. Ij'nes 
265-324, Paris arrives, solemn oaths of armistice are uiade 
with imprecations on the truce-breakers, Priam returns to 

V f 


f . 


Troy. Lines 324-380, the duel, Paris is worsted, and 
carried to Ilios by Aphrodite. Lines 382-448, Aphrodite 
compels Helen to accept the embraces of Paris. She con- 
fesses her shame in his cowardice, and taunts the Goddess, 
but is compelled to submit. Lines 448-461, Menelaus 
searches for Paris, Agamemnon proclaims his victory, and 
demands the restoration of Helen. 

In all this the promise of Zeus makes no way ; nor need 
it make any, if the poet is inclined to show us 

* The face that launched a thousand ships, 
And burned the topless towers of Ilium. ' 

It is also urged that the scene on the walls, where Helen 
describes the chiefs, is out of place in the tenth year of the 
league. The duel between Paris and Menelaus should, 
moreover, it is contended, have occurred at the first landing 
of the Achaeans. To this we need only reply that the naif 
poetic perspective readily accounts for these incidents, as 
for the catalogue of warriors on either side, for the late 
advice to array the Achaeans in clans, the allies in nations, 
and, later, for the building of the wall. Traces of later work 
are found in the mention of -^thra (144) and of the 
Amazons (189). But we really do not know that either 
iCthra or the Amazons were characters in sagas which only 
came to be developed after Homer's time. The Amazons 
are mentioned by the poet in vi. 186, in the legend of 
Bellerophon. Inconsistencies are found by wistful Germans 
in 134 and 326. In 134 Iris tells Helen, *they lean upon 
their shields and the battle is stayed.' In 326, after the cast- 
ing of the lots, * the people sat them down in ranks.' There 
is no profit in arguing with such pettifogging critics. Again 
Kochly distinguishes himself by smelling out a discrepancy 
in 143 ff, and 383 f. (see, too, 411, 420). In 143 Helen, 
with two attendants, goes to the Scaean Gates. In 383, the 
duel having intervened, Aphrodite finds Helen in a high 



tower, with many Trojan women about her ! The essential 
scene of forced reconciliation between the divine one of 
women and Paris (382-447) is regarded by the learned 
Bergk as the diaskeuast's, an example of later work. 

It is possible to give people poetry, but impossible to 
give them the brains to understand and the hearts to feel 
it. Helen has all charm, and every grace, but Homer 
either frankly accepts her weakness of will, or (which is 
much the same thing in Homeric psycholog)^) regards her 
as the victim of Aphrodite. Eustathius, as is well known, 
mentions a legend that Paris, by magically assuming the 
shape of Menelaus, beguiled Helen, and Eustathius thinks 
that Homer was acquainted with the tradition. 

As to the duel, it causes trouble owing to its parallel 
in vii. Bergk thinks that Helen on the walls is sketched 
by a talented later poet : the diaskeuast blended the pas- 
sages. Others break the book up into small separate lays, 
but this expedient has ceased to be fashionable. 


The story of the fourth book runs thus : — 1-19. The Gods 
are met on Olympus, and Zeus, for the mere pleasure of 
teasing Hera, asks, * How is the war to end ? Shall we set 
the men fighting, or permit peace ? ' — on the basis of the 
oaths taken before the duel. 20-30. The duel, if its con- 
ditions are adhered to, has ended the war. This must not 
be, so the intervention of the Gods is brought in. Hera 
replies fiercely. 30-49. Zeus threatens to destroy Hera's 
favoured cities ; she insists on the fall of Troy. 30-67. Hera 
proposes that they should compromise matters, and Athene 
should be sent to make the Trojans break the oaths. The 
result, it is implied, will be the wreaking of her grudge on 
Ilios. Zeus may retaliate by ruining Argos, Sparta, and 
Mycenae. 73-104. Athene bids Pandarus shoot treacher- 


ously at Menelaus (104-147). Menelaus is wounded (147). 
Agamemnon sees at once that the cause of Troy is lost 
by this perfidy. *The day shall come for holy Ilios to 
be laid low . . . and Zeus shall brandish over them all his 
aegis, in wrath at this deceit' (157-168). The physician 
tends Menelaus (213-219). The ranks of Troy approach 
(221-223). Agamemnon visits the various bodies of men, 
encouraging and rebuking. Among others, he taunts 
Odysseus and Diomede, who have hardly become aware 
that a general engagement is at hand. Odysseus replies 
angrily, Diomede is silent. Agamemnon apologises to 
Odysseus (358), the battle begins, Apollo encouraging the 
Trojans, and Athene the Greeks. 

In all this there is reference (512) made by Apollo to 
the absence of Achilles, Thetis' son, but none to Zeus*s 
promise to Thetis. The general story of the siege is how- 
ever, much advanced, the ruin of Troy has been finally 
decided on by Zeus, and the fall of the city is determined, 
as Agamemnon recognises here, and Diomede in vii. 400, 
by the breaking of the oaths. But Zeus is not intent on 
straightway giving honour to Achilles, by letting the Trojans 
have an advantage. It is therefore open to the seekers for 
the original Iliad to deny the originality of book iv. This 
point is seized on by Mr. Leaf (introduction to book iv.). 

Zeus regards the conclusion of the siege, when the book 
begins, *as an open question.' 

Why not ? As to the future of the war, Zeus had de- 
cided nothing. The Trojans had not yet broken their oath. 
In book i. he merely promised I'hetis to give temporary 
success to Troy, * until the Achaeans do my son honour.' 
Nor, in that book, did he acknowledge to Hera that he had 
promised even so much as this. He merely teased Hera 
as he does again in book iv., *with vexing words, and 
speaking maliciously.' He then, at Hera's request, sends 

i( 2 

■A. <■ 


Athene to make a Trojan break the solemn oaths of truce, 
taken in book iii., before the duel. Mr. Leaf thinks that 
this device * is strange ' — it is on a par with the sending of 
the baneful dream, and with familiar events in the careers 
of Ahab and Pharaoh. Mr. Leaf adds that the perjury 
* has no effect whatever upon the future development of the 
stor)', and is, indeed, barely alluded to in a few lines which 
are themselves gravely suspected.' ' What more eflfect 
could it have ? Agamemnon sees at once in this treachery 
a pledge of the future fall of Troy— * Of a surety I know 
this in heart and soul.' Mr. Leaf says the offence * is indeed 
barely alluded to in a few lines which are themselves gravely 
suspected,* and refers to v. 206-208, and tovii. 69, 351,411. 
Here (vii. 69) Hector says, * Our oaths of truce Kronos* son 
accomplished not.' * The lines are rejected by a large propor- 
tion of critics, and seem intolerable in the present place.' 
Again, the oaths are mentioned in vii. 351. Here Antenor 
says, * I^t us give back Helen, and the property stolen with 
her, for now fight we in guilt against the oaths of faith.' Bergk 
(i. 585) supposes the storj' of the council in which Antenor 
makes this proposal to be by the promising young poet who 
told of the duel of Paris and Menelaus. Here there is a 
difference of opinion on a point of grammar, but the perjury is 
assuredly influencing the development of the story. Antenor 
would give up the cause of the war, so discouraged is he. 
Paris will not permit the return of Helen ; he offers a com- 
promise -he will give back the treasure of Agamemnon, but 
Helen he will not restore. Idaeus is sent from Troy with 
this message, but Diomede, strong in his certainty that 
])erjured Troy must fall, exclaims, * I^t no man now accept 
Paris's substance, neither Helen's self ; known is it, even to 
him that hath no wisdom at all, how that the issues of de- 
struction hang already over the Trojans' (vii. 400-403). 

' Namely, v. 206, vu. 69, 351, 411. 


Agamemnon adds, * and, for the oaths, let Zeus bear witness ' 
(vii. 411). Surely this is enough. The Greeks believe that 
the fall of Troy is now only a question of time. All chance 
of peace is lost And Pandarus the oath-breaker is slain 
(v. 286-296), though, as Mr. Leaf remarks, his crime is not 
mentioned in that place. But what was the diaskeuast 
about, that he did not interpolate it ? And, if a reference 
were made, what would prevent any critic from calling it an 
interpolation ? Pandarus's sin is now on the head of all the 
Trojans, and they know it, and the Greeks know it ; but, as 
all atonement is declined by the Greeks, there is nothing 
left but a gallant death-struggle. From that hour of the 
broken oath, the ends of death are made fast on the Trojans, 
and Hector may fight, and the women may pray, but * it is 
known even to the fool,' as Diomede says, that the end is 
certain. The broken oath has made reconciliation impos- 
sible. The Trojans might conceivably have restored Helen 
and the treasures, but now even that offer will not avail, 
and Ilios is doomed. * Father Zeus will be no helper of 
liars ; as those were the first to transgress against the oath, 
so shall their own tender flesh be eaten of the vultures, and 
we shall bear away their dear wives and little children in 
our ships, when once we take the stronghold' (iv. 234-239). 
For these plain and sufficient reasons, we cannot agree with 
Mr. Leaf that the oath *has no effect whatever on the 
future development of the story.' 

We have shown that, if the Iliad may be taken as it 
stands, the perjury is a crucial point in the story. It de- 
cides the fate of Troy, and this is recognised on all hands. 
Mr. Leaf argues that it is completely forgotten except in 
v. 206, vii. 69, 351, 411, all of them * gravely suspected of 
interpolation,' while the interpolator who introduced these 
lines omitted any mention of the broken oath, when telling 
of the death of Pandarus, the traitor. Such an omission 



by an original author Mr. Leaf thinks * hardly possible.' 
In that case it is equally impossible that the interpolator 
should not have added what was wanting. Mr. Leaf ima- 
gines that V. 206, Pandarus's boast of his archery, was pro- 
bably added after the composition of book iii., to avoid 
the strangeness of not mentioning Pandarus's deed.^ Then 
why did not the interpolator complete his work, by another 
allusion to the oaths, on the death of Pandarus ? There is 
little force in objections to Hector's brief allusion to the 
broken oath (vii. 69) ; he could not dwell with complacency 
on the subject. Mr. Leaf makes no objection to Diomede's 
refusal of compromise, based on all men's certainty that 
Troy must fall, though we regard this as a distinct allusion 
to the perjury (vii. 400-403). In brief, the argument is that 
if we have no allusion to the oaths made in hook iii., that 
proves that the original poet did not know book iii. If we 
have allusions, they are interpolations, and as interpolations 
are excised the very passages which give weight and tragic 
effect to the oaths. This is not a valid kind of reasoning. 

In truth the perjury has the very greatest and most 
tragic effect, unless we are to hold the poet tightly to his 
bond, insisting that he shall sing of the Wrath and nothing 
but the Wrath. The most extreme instance of this criticism 
is displayed when Fick rejects, for example, book xvii., be- 
cause the first lines of the Iliad say that * the Wrath gave the 
bodies of heroes to the dogs and birds. Therefore there is 
to be no fight for the body of a hero ! ' A critic who can 
seriously advance such a theory simply proves that he is in- 
capable of understanding what poetry is.^ On the night of a 

' Companian to I Had, p. 116. 

- Fick, Ih'as, p. 2 ; Leaf, ///W, ii. p. 179, where Mr. Leaf says that 
Fick*s objection * is not foundation enough for so sweeping a con- 
clusion ' as that the Prologue of the Iliad excludes all burying of the 


battle there would be * more birds than women * round 
many a dead hero whose mangled remains might yet be 
interred in the great burial-howe. 

Pick's is an extraordinary specimen of criticism, of keep- 
ing a poet to the bare letter of his bond. But many of the 
excisions of books and passages from the original M^vts are 
based on this theory, that the poet must be kept strictly to 
business, that business being the story of the Wrath. As well 
might we excise most of Paradise Lost because no summar)- 
of many events is given in the prologue to the heavenly 

After the oaths, in the fourth book, Mr. Leaf objects 
to the 'E^rt^rtoAT/o'ts, or review of the troops by Agamemnon. 
The course of events was this : at the bidding of Athene, 
Pandarus treacherously shot at and wounded Menelaus. 
This was wTiolly unexpected by both parties — it was, as 
Homer says, the act of a fool. What would naturally 
follow ? The Trojans would be taken aback, not eager to 
make themselves partakers in this iniquity, anxious to see 
how the offended Achaeans would conduct themselves. 

This is what we expect ; but a Greek, not a Trojan, is the 
poet, and he makes the Trojans attack first (iv. 221). The 
Greeks are partly taken by surprise ; Agamemnon hurries 
about among them, praising the ready, and taunting even 
Odysseus and Diomede, who were scarcely aware that the 
fray had begun. The speeches are long, and extremely 
interesting as indications of character in the spirited reply of 
Odysseus, the respectful silence of Diomede, the chivalrous 
withdrawal of his angry words by Agamemnon. His temper, 
we must remember, had been stirred by the disloyal attack 
on his brother. Mr. Leaf argues that the passage retards 
the action, that the speeches are prolix, and that the taunts 
of Agamemnon are * out of keeping with his character,* 
though he admires the modesty of Diomede. The occur- 


rence is referred to by Diomede in book ix. 34-36, so it 
cannot be later than that book. As to Mr. Leafs objections, 
then, we admit that the action is retarded, but we add that 
a great deal of rhetoric under arms is characteristic of 
Homeric manners. We do not think Agamenuion's im- 
patience and fury out of keeping with his disposition, con- 
sidering how his temper had been irritated. The replies of 
the heroes are extremely characteristic. 

The battle now begins, and is continued in book v. 

As we understand Mr. Leaf (introduction to book iv.) 
this battle came at one stage in the evolution of the poem 
where the Catalogue of the Ships now stands (ii. 483). 
This was Mr. Leafs opinion in his first volume, but we have 
seen that he has now dovetailed book xi. 61 on to ii. 483. 
Mr. Leaf must apparently have changed his mind, and after 
at one time regarding the battle in book iv. as part of the 
* original M^ts,' must have determined later to give it up, 
and to go on to the battle in book xi.* 

A number of other objections are urged against the 
fourth book. Lachmann finds in it fragments of brief lost 
lays. About these * lays ' we have really no knowledge, the 
attempts to discover their traces are futile. Bernhardy says 
that book iv. has no reference to book iii. Jacob and Genz, 
admitting the connection between the books, fancy that iv. is 
by a different poet. Bergk finds in the duel and perjurj- one 
of the earliest amplifications, but a diaskeuast has l)een busy 
with the whole till fighting begins (iv. 422). The oaths of 

* I quote Mr. Leafs words, Iliad^ i. 115, as I am not certain that 
I understand his meaning. * The beginning of the battle ' (in book 
iv.) * is what we should have expected after the account of the anning 
in book ii. (483). 422, as Lachmann observed, can follow 483 or 78a- 
785, without a break of any sort being discoverable. This was, 
in my opinion, the actual sequence in one point of the evolution of the 
Iliad from the original germ.* The difficulty of un f>€au page iPaIg^i>re 
is trifling to that of picking out the l<>.>t junctures in the jxiem. 


book iii. and iv. 158, cause searchings of hearts, because, 
among other reasons, Homer is supposed to know nothing 
of punishments in a future life.' Petty objections are made 
to iv. 98. Paris would be glad if he saw Menelaus shot, and 
brought to the funeral pyre. * Now Paris is not on the field, 
so how could he see it ? ' And why should Pandarus wish 
to win favour from Paris, who has just been spoken of, 
after his flight from the duel, as hateful to the Trojans (iii. 
454)? It is extraordinary that men, professionally busied 
with literature, should write treatises on points like these. 
Agamemnon's speech (iv. 155-183) is canvassed as if it 
were a clause in an important piece of legislation. 
Agamemnon, in his anxiety, says that Zeus will certainly 
ruin perjured Ilios, sooner or later, but that will be small 
comfort if Menelaus leaves his bones in the Trojan land 
and the Achaeans withdraw in discouragement. Rhapsodes 
and diaskeuasts and fragments of old lays ill-joined are 
appealed to, by way of accounting for all this. People who 
criticise Homer should have some inkling of what poetry is. 
Then, why did the Trojans move first, after the treacherous 
arrow-shot (iv. 221). Possibly they thought it well, in 
Scotch phrase, to take * the first word of flyting.' Mr. 
Monro says, * perhaps the intention is simply to represent 
both sides beginning the advance, but the poet looks at it 
from the Greek point of view, from which the Trojan 
movement is more conspicuous.* The review is explained 
as an old fragment, stuck in at random. The remarks of 
the irritable Agamemnon to Odysseus and Diomede have 
already been commented upon. They are certainly long, 
and there may have been a local patriotic motive for 
interpolating a lengthy story about Tydeus (iv. 370-400). 

' See xix. 258, iv. 270 ; Odyssey, xi. 570-600, is disposed of as an 
interpolation. The Erinyes occur in book xix., not in the oath of 
book iii. 


But it was customary to encourage men by references to 
their illustrious ancestors. Moreover, granting a local 
patriotic motive in a single poet, we can see no reason why, 
if the tale had been interpolated in one minstrel's recitation, 
or in one text, it should have been accepted. Let us try to 
imagine how such an interpolation could be made, and could 
keep its ground. Say that the epic was preserved in memory. 
A very famous Homerid might add this or that passage, 
might hand it down to his successor, but then the interpola- 
tion, unless it had rare merit, would only be known in the 
reciter's circuit. Outside that circuit, when copies came to 
be made, how would it win recognition and acceptance? 
Or, if there were several early texts, from the generation 
following the poet's, how would recognition be secured by 
this one example which contained the interpolation ? The 
passage, let us say, redounds to the glory of Athene. It 
might have pleased in Athene's o^n city, Athens; the 
Athenian recension may have been the dominant one. 
But this brings us almost to the Pisistratean hypothesis, 
which is very commonly abandoned. We simply flounder 
in morasses of conjecture, as a rule, when we pretend to 
detect interpolations. 



The fifth book of the Iliad, with part of the sixth, was 
known, as early as Herodotus's time, by the name of * The 
Aristeia of Diomede.' The great deeds of Tydeus' son, in 
the battle which followed the breaking of the Truce, occupy 
the book. But it also contains pictures of the mcleey the 
general combat, and accounts of the parts played by the 
gods in the battle. These must be carefully considered. 
They illustrate the natural confusions of mythological 
fancy when busy with gods, now looked on as supernatural 
powers, now as fettered by human conditions. The incon- 
sistencies in the narrative will seem to be the results, not of 
interpolations, interruptions, and additions, but of the 
mythopoeic imagination, itself essentially confused. Indeed, 
all through the Iliad, the problems which give most trouble 
to commentators are caused by the very nature of mytho- 

The fifth book opens with the inspiration lent to 
Diomede by Athene. She sends him forth to conquer, and 
then (31-34) leads Ares out of the fight, bids him shun the 
anger of Zeus, and seats him on the bank of the Scamander. 
In Homer Ares is always treated as a bully and coward. 
The niflee is described in the next passage ; then Pandarus 
(09) wounds Diomede, who prays to Athene. She hears 


him, whether from afar or on Scamander's neighbouring 
bank does not appear. She speaks to him, saying that she 
has taken the mist from his eyes that he may know gods 
from men (124-132). He is to fight no god but Aphrodite 
only. As a rule, in Homer, any stranger may be a god ; 
on departing from human converse, however, the gods 
usually give some sign of their true character. From lines 
177-178 we learn that -^neas thinks Diomede may be a 
god wroth with the Trojans. Pandarus thinks he is Dio- 
mede, but is not certain. * I struck him, yet I vanquished 
him not ; surely it is some wrathful god.' In this passage 
(207) Pandarus refers to his treacher)\ He has merely 
wounded Diomede and Menelaus, and casts the blame on 
his bow. -^neas and Pandarus now attack Diomede, who 
says, 'Pallas Athene bids me not to be afraid.* Athene 
guides his spear, which slays Pandarus. Diomede makes 
no reference to his treachery (286-296). This is not really 
strange, as the Greeks do not know what Trojan shot the 
fatal arrow (iv. 196, 197). The strange thing would be if 
Diomede had known. Agamemnon himself does not know 
whether the archer was a Trojan or a Lycian. The poet 
might have stopped to moralise on Pandarus's punishment ; 
he could not consistently make Diomede do so. Aphrodite 
now rescues ^neas, her son, from Diomede (312-314). 
Diomede wounds her (330). Iris leads her to Ares, who is 
sitting on the left of the field, with his spear resting on a 
cloud. Aphrodite mounts his car, and Iris drives the 
horses to Olympus. The gods sometimes move by a mere 
effort of will, sometimes drive, and occasionally walk. In 
Olympus Dione cherishes Aphrodite. Athene is there, 
now, and with Hera mocks at Aphrodite. Meanwhile (440) 
Apollo protects /Eneas from Diomede, who, in spite of 
Athene's advice, three times assails the hero. Leto and 
Artemis heal the wounded /Eneas, whom Apollo has car- 


ried to the Trojan citadel, leaving a wraith of him lying on 
the field (449). Apollo now addresses Ares, apparently in 
the midst of the meUe^ bidding him divert Diomede. Then 
Apollo sits down on the heights of Pergamos, where was 
his temple. Ares, in the guise of a Thracian ally, en- 
courages Priam's sons. Sarpedon arouses Hector. All 
this Ares can do, as Athene has departed (510). Apollo 
sends forth ^neas again. The mellay continues. Ares 
leading the Trojans (592), and Diomede shudders at sight of 
the gods whom (604), by virtue of Athene's gift, he is able to 
recognise. The mellay continues. Sarpedon kills Tlepo- 
lemus, but is wounded by him. Athene arouses Odysseus 
against the Lycians. This she seems to do from Olympus. 
Ares is now leading the hosts of Troy (702). Hera and 
Athene take their chariot (722). Athene arms herself; 
they drive to consult Zeus, who is on the crest of Olympus, 
apart from the gods (754). By permission of Zeus, to re- 
strain Ares, they drive down to the junction of Simois and 
Scamander, where they leave their horses. Athene en- 
courages Diomede, who tells her that, on her own advice, 
he does not encounter Ares. Athene, by aid of the helm 
of Hades (the *cap of darkness '), makes herself invisible to 
Ares (845), and she drives Diomede's spear into the belly 
of the god (856), Thus Athene, not Diomede, really 
wounds the deity. He flies to Olympus, where he is re- 
buked by Zeus. However, he is healed by Paeeon, while 
Hera and Athene return to the mansion of Zeus. 

It is necessary to follow the story into book vi., for 
book V. ends with the return of the goddesses. In vi. 
(i) the mortals are left by the gods to their own devices. 
The mellay goes on ; the Trojans have the worst of it. 
Helenus, the augur, bids his brother. Hector, rally them, 
and then, returning to the city, send Hecuba with the 
elder ladies to 'supplicate Athene. She may stay the fury of 


Diomede. Hector rallies the Trojans with divine success 
and skill (io8). The Achaeans take him for a god. He 
then sends his mother to supplicate Athene. But, as he is 
on his way, Diomede, meeting Glaucus the Lycian, asks 
him if he is a god : * then will I not fight with immortal 
gods ' (128). Glaucus replies with the history of his lineage, 
and the story of Bellerophon. He and Diomede, recognis- 
ing each other as ancestral friends, exchange armour and 
courtesies. Leaving Hector to urge the unavailing ritual 
of Athene, to arouse Paris, converse with Helen, and con- 
sole Andromache, we must now examine the objections to 
this Aristeia of Diomede (v. vi. 1-235). 

In the first place, both Achilles and the Promise of Zeus 
are out of sight. ' Thus the passage is not absolutely necessary 
to the main idea of the poem. If, however, we admit that 
the original poet may have been anxious to celebrate other 
heroes, this objection is not important. On the other hand, if 
additions were made to the poem at all, the aristeitz of 
heroic ancestors are precisely what a new poet would be 
anxious to interweave. Doubtless he might find material 
in old lays of family minstrels, but it is no less undoubted 
that of such lays, their length and character, we know abso- 
lutely nothing. The aristeia of Diomede may be based 
on them ; that it contains one of them, interpolated en 
massey we have every reason to disbelieve. 

The chief critical difficulty detected by Mr. Leaf is the 
remark of Diomede in book vi. 128, where the hero doubts 
whether Glaucus is a god, and where he declines to fight 
against gods, giving the story of Lycurgus's resistance to 
Dionysus, itself probably late, as a proof of the danger of 
such impiety (vi. 130). Mr. Leaf finds this cautiousness 
unintelligible in a hero who has just vanquished Aphrodite 
and Ares, while the doubt is inconsistent with Diomede*s 

' Achilles b mentiotwd^ v. 788, vi 99. 


recent gift of recognising gods (v. 127-8). But, as we have 
seen, Diomede was expressly warned by Athene to fight no 
god except Aphrodite. His experience of Apollo when 
he attacked ^'Eneas was discouraging. He knew that 
Athene's hand, not his, had wounded Ares. But Athene is 
not now with Diomede ; she is in Olympus, withdrawn from 
war, and, if her gift to Diomede has departed with her, there 
is no * glaring inconsistency ' at all. The gift had lasted 
while the gods were on the scene ; we are not told that it 
was to be permanent. The gods never act in Homer with- 
out producing inconsistencies. Mr. Leaf accounted for the 
anomaly about Diomede by supposing that his aristeia 
is probably the earliest addition to the original poem, per- 
haps by the original author, while the episodes of the 
wounding of the gods are later additions to the aristeia. 
Of course, if the aristeia is by the original author, it is vain 
for us to ask whether it is later than the main part of 
the Iliad. Internal evidence is of no value in such a 
matter. Commentators will take one side or the other in 
obedience to their general theory of the original poem. 
Then, as regards the * machinery,' the gods and their inter- 
ventions, we must ask, What motive could any one have foi 
adding it ? What was gained by recasting a simple story, 
for the purpose of adding later machinery ? The behaviour 
of the gods here, notably of Athene and Ares, is consistent 
with their general characters in Homer. Mr. Leaf now * feels 
that the unity of spirit of the whole book is a stronger 
argument than any on the other side.' 

If inconsistencies are to be explained as interpolations 
and the results of remaniement, we may imagine how the 
critics of a future age will treat Pendetmis, In that romance 
Master Clavering grows, in six years, from four to thirteen. 
Mrs. Bungay's Christian name is changed twice in two con- 
secutive pages. In vol. i. p. 25, we learn that Pendennis's 


mother is * alive to this day * — namely, when the history is 
being written. In the seventeenth number of the tale, 
Pendennis*s mother dies. 

Now, if Pendennis had been worked over by later 
authors, their first care would h^ve been to remove these 
inconsistencies, which a competent proof-reader would have 
det^ted. On Scott's proof sheets we see James Ballan- 
tyne's hand, pointing out to him errors like Diomede's doubt 
as to whether Glaucus is a god. Homer had no proofs, nor 
proof-readers. However, if the Homeridae, or any other suc- 
cessors, followed by Pisistratean editors and later editors, 
did not correct such slips, what did they do? We have 
daily instances of blunders quite as great as Homer's in- 
consistencies, made by authors rejoicing in many * revises.' 
Such errors, therefore, are not greater than a writer may 
commit with all modem appliances to aid. Why should 
they be thought wonders only to be explained as interpola- 
tions, in the work of a poet who, if he wrote at all, must 
have used rather rude materials ? Mr. I.,eaf thought, but has 
changed his mind, that the wounding of Aphrodite is earlier, 
the wounding of Ares later, an attempt to * outbid ' the former 
exploit.* Bergk (i. 578) thinks that the *old Iliad ' had the 
fight with Ares, a younger poet added the wounding of 
Aphrodite, and altered the scene with Ares (432-444). 

Such is the Higher Criticism ! Meanwhile, parts of the 
interesting conversation between Diomede and Glaucus, as 
the comparison of men to forest leaves, are among the 
most Homeric lines in Homer. The speech was familiar to 
Simonides, who quotes it. The new plan is simply to excise 
vi. 128-142, where Diomede refuses to fight a god and tells 
the tale of Dionysus and Lycurgus. 

So much for * one of the most glaring inconsistencies 

• Companion to the liiaJ, p. 113. Compare his JliaJ, iDtroductioo 
to Book V. 

PARIS 1 1 3 

in the Homeric poems.' If this be among the worst, we 
need scarcely fly to a theory of interpolation which itself 
involves us in so many unanswerable problems as to the 
motive, date, authorship, and method of the interpolators. 

Surely it is not difficult to imagine, either that the poet 
made a slip, or that the mist which had been with- 
drawn from Diomede's eyes while the gods were present 
was allowed to fall on them again when the gods retired. 

Omitting some minor points, we may notice an opinion 
of Mr. Leafs on the sixth book. He has much difficulty in 
placing the lines 313-482 — the conversation of Hector in 
Troy with Paris, Helen, and Andromache. But the passage 
has clear reference to iii. 454, to the wrath of the Trojans 
with Paris, and is a necessary continuation of book iii., if 
Paris is to be brought back into the action. In the 
speech of Hector, apparently referring to iii., * none of the 
allusions exactly suit.' Mr. Leaf suggests that the duel 
in iii. may have taken the place later of the incidents 
referred to in vi. The * anger ' alluded to in vi. 326 seems 
to us to be the indignation of the Trojans in iii. 454. Again 
in book vi. 1-72 are censured. Helenus bids Hector 
exert himself to rally the Trojans, and proposes prayer to 
Athene. IVAy, as Diomede has only killed a brace of men 
in seventy-two lines ? But his example has encouraged the 
Greeks ; Menelaus and Euryalus have each killed a brace, 
and Diomede is still pursuing. 

There are, as usual, many minute critical objections to 
book V. For example, if Zeus is keeping his promise to 
Thetis, he should not let Hera drive Ares out of the field, 
where he is engaged in fulfilling that very promise (v. 757- 
767). Several mythical legends in the book are peculiar 
to it ; Dione, Enyo, Paeeon, are examples. Haupt would 
excise 71 1-792 ; the long account of Hera and Athene, their 

' Leafs ///W, ii. 11. 




preparation for reaching the battlefield, because they do 
not do much when they reach it, and their return is de- 
scribed briefly. Here there is want of * symmetry.' One is 
reminded of the Scotch laird, who had to put one man in 
the *jougs' on one side of the gate, and placed an inno- 
cent person, * for symmetry's sake,' in the jougs on the other 
side. Croiset, on the other hand, excises several passages 
for their * symmetry ' ! Hentze also is convinced that the 
passage is un- Homeric No motive is found for the rather 
abrupt action of Athene when (v. 30) she removes Ares from 
the field. And why does Athene tell Diomede to fight 
Aphrodite only of all gods ; how does she know Aphrodite 
will appear to rescue her son, -'I'Ineas? All this is only 
difficult if we forget that the gods are sometimes prescient 
and omniscient, sometimes almost as limited as mortals. 

Mythology is only consistent in inconsistency ; when it 
ceases to be inconsistent it ceases to be mythological. 
The gods hardly ever appear without troubling commen- 
tators, who expect them to act like rational beings. Are 
we to imagine that all the divine machinery was introduced 
later, like the machinery in the Rape of the Lock ? Why 
should any poet have introduced any of it ? If an inter- 
polator worked it all over, why did he not excise what was 
inconsistent with his interpolations ? It is just as easy to 
believe, where slips occur, that the original poet made 
them, as Scott and Thackeray made them, as to believe 
that interpolators themselves blundered. These remarks 
apply to all the cases where the gods cause difficulties. 
They cannot app)ear, being what they are, without causing 
difficulties to modem readers. Their very nature is a * bull ' 
and a swarm of inconsistencies. When we find a goddess 
hiding herself from a god by the Cap of Darkness, we are 
clearly in topsy-tur\7 land, where anything may happen. 
As to book \n., especially the beautiful passages on Helen 


and Andromache, there is only one thing to be said. If 
these are not by the original poet, we encounter a double 
miracle. It is miraculous enough that two poets should 
have been so great in the great manner : it is contrary to 
the doctrine of chances that each should have been exactly 
the complement of the other. The first was inspired to 
sing of men, the second to sing of women ; of Helen's 
shame and repentance, her shame bidding her send her 
lover into the fight ; of Andromache's tenderness, impelling 
her to bid her warlike husband tarry within the walls. 
Nature does not practise this economic arrangement of 
genius, nor enable one poet exactly to fill up the defect in 
another poet's inspiration. 

By far the weightiest argument for late work in these 
books is the legend told by Diomede about the enemies of 
Dionysus (vi. 130-139). Dionysus only occurs twice or 
thrice in Homer, and the other passages, as in Odyssey, 
xi. 325, xxiv. 74, are suspected by some. He was con- 
fessedly, and according to all myth, a parvenu among 
the gods, but as to the date when his worship was intro- 
duced we have no certainty. He is a peasant god, and 
so is outside of Homer's ken, but his introduction is as- 
signed to the heroic age, and it would be rash to say that 
he either emerged from rural mysteries, or came in from 
abroad, later than the date of Homer. 


The seventh book begins with the welcome reappearance 

of Hector and Paris on the field (i -17). It may be said 

that Paris does little ; the truth, perhaps, is that, if we v/ere 

to see Helen again, Paris could hardly be left at home ; he 

must be brought back from her bower. The battle might 

go on till one side conquered, but it is not in the poet's 

interest to end so abruptly. He, therefore, to retard the 

I 7 


action, falls back on his machinery. Apollo and Athene 
meet ; she comes (with no chariot) from Olympus, he from 
Pergamos, and they decide to stop the fight by making 
Hector propose a single combat. Helenus is inspired by 
them to suggest this, and Hector agrees (16-53). Apollo 
and Athene look on in the guise of vultures. There is no 
reason in the world why they should act thus, except that 
they are gods, and, as such, 'shape-shifters,' Hector 
issues his challenge ; he does not stake the issue of the war 
on the duel. * Our oaths of truce Zeus accomplished not * 
(69) ; the proposal is merely chivalrous. All the Greeks 
are silent, Menelaus reproaches them (95) and will fight 
himself. He dons his armour (103), and commentators 
may ask when and why he ever took it off? Agamemnon 
tells him he is no match for Hector, and (122) his armour 
is taken off again. Nestor upbraids the Greeks (123-166) 
and proposes that the nine heroes who now answer his 
appeal shall cast lots. The Greeks hope that Agamemnon, 
Aias, or Diomede will draw the winning lot. That of 
Aias leaps out. The absence of Achilles is more than once 
lamented, as in 228. They fight : Aias has the best of it, 
the heralds sunder them, night is at hand, they exchange 
gifts, Hector is taken to the city, Aias dines with Aga- 
memnon (312). 

Here a natural break occurs in the narrative. What 
has preceded is criticised severely. We have now seen two 
duels in one day, and the second duel is fought in spite of 
the treachery that followed the first. Hector's allusion to 
the broken oath (69 72) is * almost cynical,' and for a 
reason of textual criticism is regarded as unauthentic. On 
the other hand, Agamemnon, like Hector (iv. 160), laid the 
weight of the broken oath on the will of Zeus. 

Mr. Leaf supposes that this duel in book vii. is older 
than that in book iii., which consequently was unknown 


to the author of the present combat of Hector and Aias. 
The very opposite opinion is held by several German 
critics. The lines alluding to it are a later interpolation.* 
To all this it may be replied that the poet addressed an 
audience which liked plenty of fighting, and would be 
pleased by the variety of a duel. Though the two duels 
occur in one day, they are separated from each other by 
three long books, as far as the audience is concerned. 
Moreover, as Mr. Leaf says, they are duels of different kind 
and character. The inconsistency of the duel does not 
strike Mr. Monro so strongly.* * As to the repetition of the 
duel episode,' he says, * it may be enough to say that the 
hvo occasions differ in almost every respect^ and that they are 
separated by the long interval, poetically speaking, of the 
arisieia of Diomede.' 

To this one or two observations may be added. Our 
modem taste is really no infallible touchstone of incon- 
sistency in a poet of an age, a religion, manners, and ideas 
alien to ours. The gods caused this second duel, and 
inspired Helenus to propose it. It is inconsistent with our 
ideas that the gods should change into vultures, as they do 
here, and watch the duel from a convenient tree (vii. 59, 60). 
We have already remarked on the incongruities which in- 
variably occur, when the gods mix themselves in the war. 
Such are the beings, then, who suggest the duel. But in 
itself the duel would not have seemed so inconsistent, nor 
Hector's remark so cynical, to men in the Homeric age. 
'Zeus has made our oaths of no avail. We must fight 
a outrance,^ But I conceive him to mean, * though one duel 
was spoiled by the gods, there is no reason why we Trojans 
should not show, in another, that, man for man, we are 
your match.' Once given, the challenge cannot be declined 

' It is alluded to again in book vii. 
• liiad^ vol. i. p. 320. 


without shame, so the Greeks do not refuse on the ground 
of Trojan disloyalty. They do object to the broken oaths 
(vii. 400) when a question of a treaty and compromise is 
broached. They do not object when * a gentle and joyous 
passage of arms ' is proposed. It is thus that we would ex- 
plain the second duel. A duel is usually an interesting inci- 
dent, and this one, as Mr. Monro says, is, poetically speaking, 
separated by a long interval from the other. We cannot 
imagine a critical listener, of the poet's time, saying, * They 
could not have had t7vo single combats in one day, espe- 
cially after the affair of the oaths.' As men listened to the 
reciter, and waited to hear how such a splendid holmgang 
as that of Aias and Hector would end, one does not believe 
that a single thought of criticism arose. Does anyone 
believe it ? We must estimate Homer by his age and 
his audience. These refinements of criticism belong to a 
later age. An interpolator, if he had introduced the first 
duel on the model of the second, would have probably 
joined his passages more carefully. Mr. I^eaf himself says 
that ' the two duels are separated, to a hearer, by a suffi- 
ciently long interval to make their inconsistency the less 
obvious.' Yet * to hold that they were composed in their 
present form for their present places, in a poem conceived 
from the first as a whole is hardly within the bounds of 

To tell the truth, ne objections of Mr. Leaf would 
never have occurred to us, who have the ad\*antage of read- 
ing, and do not listen to, the poem. I believe that no 
hearer of Homers time, as I have said, would have dreamed 
of a critical objection. Now, Homer was composing for an 
audience of eager warriors, not for a public of professors, 
poring over his work with spectacles. If the inconsistency 
were not obvious to the audience, why should it have 
struck the poet as incompatible with its place in the poem? 

homer's audience 119 

And suppose there were critics in Homer's audience who 
made objections (a supposition almost incredible), the backs 
of the gods, who suggested the second duel, were broad 
enough to bear the burden. 

It has been said that no man can criticise a novel fairly 
who has read it, not for pleasure, but with the set purpose 
of reviewing it. Much more is this true in Homeric criti- 
cism. They who pry into the inconsistencies of this or 
that passage, they who actually have a professional motive, 
and a name among the learned to win by discovering a slip 
or blunder, are as remote as mortals can be from the posi- 
tion of Homer's original hearers. For them, for warriors, 
he sang ; not for spectacled young German critics on their 

It is not possible here to enumerate all the objections 
that have been made, and all the hypotheses that have been 
suggested. Now we have fragments of old lays, inter- 
woven unskilfully ; now we have later interpolations ; now 
-the rhapsodist, now the diaskeuast is invoked. As we 
know nothing whatever about ancient lays, which may have 
preceded the epic, as we know nothing about diaskeuasts, 
rhapsodes, and editors, down to Plato's time at earliest, 
the inventions of scholars on those matters resemble the 
industry of the Rabelaisian chimsera — bombinans in vacuo. 
There is nothing solid to found a theory upon. Certain 
expressions, as oloOtv o7oc, atvoOiv an'ut^ (39, 226, 97), are 
peculiar, but afford no certain indications of date. We can 
only say, with Mr. Monro, * such forms are rare in Homer, 
hence it is singular that there are three instances in this 

Lachmann found vii. 1-3 12 so closely connected 
with vi., that he recognised them, on his system, as the 
component parts of one lay — his sixth lay. Christ * makes 

* Homcri Iliadis Carmina, i. 68, 69. 1884 

■»f T 


vii. 8-312 (the duel of Hector and Aias) his thirteenth lay, 
and supposes it to have been composed later than his 
twentieth to twenty-fourth lays. His reasons are charac- 
teristic. The poet of book xiii. (one of Christ's lays 
twenty to twenty-four) had never heard of the duel between 
Aias and Hector : therefore the duel is later than book xiii. 
Christ proves his point by quoting the speech of Aias 
(xiii. 79, 80), * I am keen to meet, even in single fight, 
the ceaseless rage of Hector.' Again, in xiii. 810, Aias 
challenges Hector. But how does this prove that the two 
heroes had not already met, as in book vii., in an un- 
decided duel — a kind of tournament? They had not, in 
book vii., like Glaucus and Diomede, vowed never to 
fight again. Such arguments could hardly be advanced in 
any other field of discussion, except, perhaps, mythology. 

As to the two duels, Christ (i. 38) is in doubt whether 
Hector's reference to the first single fight (vii. 69-72) is 
genuine or not. There is nothing against the lines : 
Mr. Leaf takes an objection, Mr. Monro does not ; we 
may either excise them, or, admitting that the two duels 
are inharmonious, lay the fault of Trojan perfidy on Zeus, 
as Hector and Agamemnon do. Though there is nothing 
against these lines, in Christ's opinion, in Mr. Leafs they 
are ' intolerable in this place,' and Heyne assigns them to 
a rhapsodist. Lachmann defends them, Haupt says they 
stand where they should not, and, if they are to be expelled, 
then the author of the duel between Aias and Hector is 
said to know nothing of the duel between Menelaus and 
Paris in book iii. But here the commentators once more 
begin to quarrel among themselves. Kayser regards the 
duel between Aias and Hector as an interpolation, caused 
by the national conceit of the Athenians, * which insisted 
on dragging Aias into the Volksepos by the head and ears.' 
Aias is not an Athenian, but a chief of Salamis, and the 


authenticity of ii. 557, in which he is said to have pitched 
his camp beside the Athenians, was contested by the 
Megarians, who claimed Salamis for their own.* Some 
critics are as certain that the author of the second duel had 
the first for his model, as others that the author of the 
earlier duel modelled it on the second. *We have a 
rational ground for holding that we have here (in book vii.) 
the oldest form of the duel incident, subsequently developed 
into that between Menelaus and Paris ' (book iii.). This is 
because we * must undoubtedly begin by cutting out ' 69-72, 
for which Christ (vol. i. p. 38) sees no occasion. 

Such are the edifying diversities of the Higher Criti- 

After the duel in book vii., the Greeks dine, and Aias 
receives the meed of honour (322). Nestor then proposes, 
* as many Achaeans are dead,* to burn them, erect one large 
howe over them, and build high towers with gates, while a 
fosse is also to be dug as protection against Trojan assaults 
(335-344). The chiefs assent. The Trojans themselves 
hold a confused assembly. An tenor proposes to give back 
Helen, for * now fight we in guilt against the oaths of faith ' 
(351). (The oaths were made in book iii., and broken in 
book iv.) Paris refuses to restore Helen, but her wealth 
he is ready to restore. Priam urges that a herald be sent 
with the compromise of Paris to the Greeks, and with request 
for an armistice that the dead may be burned. To the 
proposal of Paris Diomede makes answer : * Not even if 
Helen be sent back will the Achaeans abandon the siege ; 
it is known, even to the fool, that the ends of destruction 
hang over the Trojans,' because of their perjury (402). 
Agamemnon gives the same answer, but accepts the 
armistice. At dawn the dead are gathered and burned by 

* See collection of authorities in Hentze's Anhang to Homer's 
Iliad, i. p. 142. 


both aniiies. On the following morning, apparently (433), 
but without mention of the intervening night, the Achaeans 
erect a great howe over the dead, and thereto build a wall 
(436) with towers, gates, a fosse, and palisades. The 
gods meet, and Poseidon expresses jealousy of a work which 
will cause the walls of Ilios, built by himself and Apollo, 
to be forgotten. Zeus tells him that he can destroy it after 
the siege. Then (465) the sun went down, and the toil of 
the Achaeans was accomplished ; ships come in with wine 
of Lemnos from Jason*s son, Euneus ; both sides feast and 

Without * seeking a knot in a reed,' we may observe and 
acknowledge the difficulties in these passages. Thucydides 
remarked that this precaution of the wall should have been 
taken nine years earlier : at the beginning of the siege. 
Mr. Grote held that this present account of building the 
wall 'seems to be an afterthought arising out of the 
enlargement of the poem beyond its original scheme. The 
original Achilleis, passing at once from the first book to the 
eighth, and from thence [sic] to the eleventh book, might 
well assume the fortification and talk of it as a thing 
existing, without adducing any special reason why it was 
created. . . . But the case was altered when a new poet 
parted asunder the first and the eighth books in order to 
make room for descriptions of temporary success and glory 
on the part of the besieging army. The brilliant scenes 
sketched in the books from ii. to vii. mention no 
fortification, and even imply its non-existence ; but as no 
notice of it occurs amidst the first descriptions of Grecian 
disasters in the eighth book, the hearer who had the earher 
books present to his memory might be surprised to find a 
fortification mentioned immediately afterwards, unless the 
construction of it were specially announced to have inter- 
vened. At least so thought the poet, who introduced that 


account which we now find in the seventh book. ' ^ Mr. 
Grote sees no adequate reason for building a wall at this 
juncture if there had been none before. Mr. Leafs theory 
of the original Mqn^ is not the same as Grote's, for he does 
not include in it book viii. But he makes the same objec- 
tion as Mr. Grote to the account of the wall-building in 
this place. He thinks that an older piece of poetry may 
have been thrust in here. One obvious defence of the 
whole passage is that the description of the building is a mere 
example of early poetic perspective. In old Italian paintings 
we see all parts of the story illustrated going on at the same 
time. Homer makes Helen, in the third book, name to 
Priam the Achaean heroes, though he must have been 
familiar with them for years. This is a mere licence of 
pK)etic perspective, and the same might be said in defence 
of the wall-building in book vii. It is, perhaps, a more 
serious objection that the work of the fortifications is 
described in eight lines (vii. 432-441). Now the 
Homeric manner is to give such descriptions in detail, as 
in the building of the Raft of Odysseus, in the mooring of 
a ship, the performance of a sacrifice, and so on. *The 
pace of the proceedings passes all belief.* ^ Are we, there- 
fore, to decide that this wall-building is un-Homeric ? Or 
shall we say that Homer had no conventional *run,' no 
long formula to describe so rare a work as a large fortifica- 
tion, and that he cut down the details so as not to impede 
the process of the story ? We are left to a balance of pro- 
babilities. Mr. Monro says ^ * the building of the wall 
round the camp may be intended as an anticipation of the 
battles of which it is the scene, and also as a mark of the 
difference made by the absence of Achilles, compare his 

* History of Greece^ i. 249, 250, ed. 1846. 

^ Bergk, i. 585, 586. 

' Introduction to book vii., Iliad^ i. p. 320. 



words (ix. 348-355), "without mine aid Agamemnon 
hath built a wall and dug a foss about it wide and deep, and 
set a palisade thereon : yet even so can he not stay mur- 
derous Hector."' 


The eighth book is, in some ways, one of the most 
puzzling in the Iliad. This book, or another equivalent, 
is absolutely necessary to the development of the nar- 
rative as it now stands ; but there is something in the 
tone and manner of the book which to certain readers 
does not seem entirely harmonious and consistent. The 
canto ends with one of the most famous scenes in Homer 
— the description of the moonlit midnight heaven brooding 
peacefully above the fireht plain, where the Trojans camp, 
awaiting the divine dawn, and expecting the destruction of 
the Achaeans. But not much of the book is on this poetic 
level. That, in itself, is not strange ; but the numerous 
repetitions of lines zxid^formuhe must astonish ever)- reader. 
This question of repeated lines and sequences of lines in 
Homer is enigmatic enough. Like almost all early poetr}-, 
like our own old ballads, like the Celtic tales, like the 
Song of Roland, Homer has certain * runs ' — clichks of verse 
— inserted where an event recurs, or where a message 
is textually repeated. But in book viii. these echoes are 
especially numerous. *Out of 461 lines, 203 occur else- 
where in the Iliad or Odyssey.* The habit of repeti- 
tion is either a rest for the reciter^s memory, or was carried 
on into literature by the poet, as a survival from an age of 
composition unaided by writing. The repetitions here are 
in undue proportion. We might explain this, more or less, 
by saying that many of the events, and sequences of events, 
have occurred before in this epic. Having once got a 
phrase for a purpose, the poet economically repeats it 


whenever he has the same purpose in his mind, and this, 
as we said, is a mark of archaic composition. If we try 
the opposite view — namely, that the repetitions are the work 
of an interpolator — we encounter new problems. This is 
Mr. Leafs theory : the main part of the book was added, 
late, to lead up to book ix., itself, in his opinion, a late 
addition ; but it is plain that an ambitious interpolator 
would be too conceited to make mere centos of old phrases, 
like a school-boy >vriting Latin verses by aid of tags from 
Virgil. He would rather aim at originality. Again, who 
could wish to lead up to book ix. except the author of 
book ix., one of the most brilliant in the Iliad? That 
book could not well have existed as a separate lay ; it is 
only of value in its place. It is hardly conceivable that 
its author would be satisfied with tagging old verses. In 
these circumstances we can only state the problem ; there 
exists no certain test of any proposed solution. Much of 
the book, to my own taste (no man's taste is a criterion), 
seems to show an air of fatigue. If one may say so, many 
parts of it are mere ' business ' ; they are necessary for the 
poet's purpose ; but the poet here is not inspired. But 
similar passages are common enough in all imaginative 
literature, and do not imply diversity of authorship. 

The purpose of the eighth book is to show how Zeus 
began to fulfil his promise to Thetis — namely, that he would 
glorify Achilles by a defeat of the Achaeans. As we saw, 
this promise was originally made in a manner somewhat 
hesitating and diplomatic. Yet its fulfilment, reckoning by 
time, has not been long delayed. On the day after his 
promise Zeus sent the dream to Agamemnon. The dream 
led, when the king awoke, to the duel, and the broken 
oaths, and to more fighting ; then followed a day of truce, 
and the wall was builded. The eighth book is separated 
only by one day's war and one day's armistice from the 

126 hector's horses 

day of the promise to Thetis. In the day occupied by 
fighting, the gods interfered on both sides. Now, when 
we consider the hesitation of Zeus in his promise, and when 
we remember what this deity was - how, like Miss Austen's 
Mr. Bennet, he took a humorous pleasure in the absurdities 
of his wife and children — it really is not extraordinary that 
he should let them disport themselves for a day, before he 
began to fulfil a promise which he had given without en- 
thusiasm. If we make these human allowances for a very 
faulty human character, the mnumerable volumes written 
about the delay in the keeping of his promise will seem 
rather superfluous. Day dawns after the burial of the dead 
and the building of the wall ; Zeus calls the gods together, 
and announces that now he will severely punish any inter- 
ference. Yet he admits to his pet daughter, Athene, that 
his words are not to be taken quite in earnest (39 -40). He 
then retires to topmost Gargarus and looks on. The hosts 
arm ; there is equal fighting till (75) Zeus terrifies the 
Greeks by flashes of lightning. They all fly ; even Odys- 
seus, for once, retreats ; but Diomede takes Nestor in his 
own chariot, and retires fighting. Zeus, by another bolt 
(135), takes the heart out of Nestor. Hector pursues, 
and rails at the Achaeans for building the wall (178). 
There follows a curious passage (185-197), where head- 
dresses his /our horses, and reminds them of their messes 
of wheat and wine. Now we never hear of /ot/r horses in 
a war-chariot. Aristarchus objected to this, and all the old 
critics were aghast at the idea of giving wine to horses. 
But the old critics had never kept chargers actively engaged 
in daily battle. Old * Dictator,' some twenty years ago, 
always had his bottle of port before a race. In the 
Memorials of Montrose (Maitland Club, 1848), p. 123, we 
read * Item, to my Lord's horse after his hunting, a pint of 
ale and a loaf, 2s. 8^.' We also remember how Gustavus 


was Dalgetty's commensalis. There is another objection : 
Hector mentions a golden shield of Nestor's, and a breast- 
plate of Diomede's, which we do not hear of elsewhere. If 
all this be interpolated, the interpolator's motive is not 
conspicuous, and, as the poet here deals largely in repeti- 
tions, it is odd that he should also break out into unexampled 
oddities.* Hera now wishes to interfere ; Poseidon restrains 
her ; Agamemnon prays ; Zeus pities and sends him a 
favourable omen ; Diomede, encouraged, leads a sortie 
from the wall ; Teucer, till wounded by Hector, shoots 
from beneath his brother's shield ; Zeus urges on the 
Trojans : Hera and Athene wish to interfere, but yield to 
Zeus. Night falls on the Achoeans, deeply discouraged and 
besieged within their wall, while the triumphant Trojans 
camp on the plain, in the famous night scene, anticipating 
the destruction of the leaguer. 

Thus the despondency of the Achaeans, and the remorse 
of Agamemnon, lead to the embassy to Achilles in book ix. 

I^chmann divides book viii. into three separate pieces 
by three separate poets. Hentze thinks the author a very 
third-rate minstrel, inconsistent, and careless of providing 
satisfactory motives. The canto does not belong to the old 
original epic. Diintzer and Friedlander think that it does, 
but hold interpolations. Bergk recognises ancient frag- 
ments remanies. Kayser looks on the book as a palimpsest, 
written over and almost hiding something more antique. 
Christ believes it is late, and meant to introduce book ix. 
Genz regards the prowess of Teucer as an older lay. Her- 

• Mr. Leaf suggests that the line alx)ut wine given by Andromache 
to the horses before her husband dined may have been introduced by 
an interpolator, because, otherwise, Hector would seem to have been fed 
on grain. Leaving the line out, the passage would read : * Andromache 
set before you honey-hearted wheat sooner than for me.' But the 
addition of the wine does not remove the wheat. Hector clearly 
means * she gave you your food before she gave me my dinner.' 

128 BOOK IX 

mann places bits of it, with bits of xiil and xiv., in an 
antique song of his own invention. Any number of 
such theories can readily be devised, if we wish to be 


The ninth book of the Iliad, taken in connection with 
the sixteenth, is the strength, or the weakness, of disintegra- 
tive criticism. It is maintained that the conduct and 
language of Achilles in book ix. are utterly irreconcilable 
with his language in book xvi. Consequently, the two 
books cannot be by the same poet. Both books are of con- 
spicuous excellence, but we are to understand that the author 
of the original * Wrath ' composed book xvi., while another 
later poet, no less excellent, composed book ix., and yet 
xvi. and ix. are in glaring contradiction, according to the 
disintegrators. As the contradictions only appear in a ver)' 
few lines of xvi., we naturally ask why the new poet, who 
freely added book ix., did not remove the brief texts in the 
older xvi., which, on the showing of commentators, stultify 
both works. The answer is, that the new poet*s conduct in 
adding a contradictory episode, and so making the old 
poet's hero behave inconsistently, while at the same time the 
new poet neglects to remove the absurdity by a stroke of 
the pen, or by simple omission in recitation, is * a striking 
proof of the conservative forces which guided the construc- 
tion of the Iliad from its first elements.' ^ To add to a poem 
inconsistently, to botch it, and patch it, and make it self- 
contradictory, and needlessly leave it so, is an example 
of * conservative forces.' This kind of criticism seems 
rather arbitrary ; but on this kind of criticism the theor)* 
of disintegration relies. 

We must now examine the so-called inconsistencies, 

' Ljcsif, Companion to the liiady p. 268. 


which are said to prove separate authorships. The ninth 
book opens thus : — 

Agamemnon, 'weeping like a waterfall' (ix. 14), ad- 
dresses the host. Zeus has blinded his heart. He advises 
instant flight. Diomede says that, wliosoever flies, he stays. 
Nestor suggests a meeting of the Council of Chiefs, in which 
he proposes making atonement to Achilles. Agamemnon, 
confessing his folly, declares that he will make amends ; will 
send gifts of horses, women, gold ; will return Brisei's as she 
came to him, and will give Achilles the hand of his daughter, 
with seven cities for her dowry. Nestor takes him at his 
word, and advises sending to Achilles his old tutor, Phcenix, 
with Aias, Odysseus, and two heralds.* *The twain* 
(Odysseus and Aias ?) enter the hero's hut ; he is singing 

* the renowns of men,' but welcomes the envoys courteously. 
After they have eaten, Aias nods to Phoenix (223) ; but 
Odysseus takes the word. It is doubtful, he says, if they can 
save the ships, * if thou put not out thy might.' Agamemnon 
offers worthy gifts, which are enumerated. But, even if he 
and his gifts be hateful, yet pity the Achaeans (301). 

Achilles, in reply, urges his old grievances against 
Agamemnon. He has many resentments, and not his loss 
of Brisei's alone. Besides, he cannot trust Agamemnon. 

* Let him not tempt me that know him too well : he shall 
not prevail ' (345). Let him keep fire from the ships for 
himself, if he can ; he has already built a wall which he 
never needed while I was in the field. Already (in book i. 
409) Achilles had said that he must see the Achaeans 

* hemmed among their ships' sterns given over to slaughter ' 
before he relented. Not till then would he fight, when his 
own ships were endangered (xvi. 61-63). '^^^s glutting of 
his vengeance is not given him till book xvi. ; and then he 
cries, in bitterness of heart at the irony of the gods, * My 

' There are ronsiderable difficulties about Phoenix. 



prayer hath Zeus accomplished ; but what delight have I 
therein, since Patroclus, my dear comrade, is dead?' 
(xviii. 79-83). Now he threatens to sail away on the 
morrow. Let them carry this message openly to 
Agamemnon, ' that all the Achseans likewise may be wroth * 
(ix. 370). 

He has been deceived once, and once suffices. Not for 
all the wealth of Eg)'ptian Thebes will he relent, till 
Agamemnon has * paid back all the bitter despite * (387) — 
that is, * in humiliation, not presents.' * As yet he is not 
paid. Let the Achaeans turn to some other counsel. 
Phoenix may stay in his hut for the night, and return with 
him to Phthia, or not, as he pleases (429). Phoenix now, 
with tears, beseeches him not to return to Greece, telling 
tales from his own history and that of Meleager, to show the 
folly of relentlessness. In Meleager's case, he relented so 
late, that his fellow-citizens did not give him the gifts of 
atonement. Achilles runs risk of dishonour if he also 
relents late, and fights, on a sudden, before atonement has 
been made (432-605). 

This reception of atonement is a point of honour in 
Homeric as in old Icelandic manners. It is not the value 
of the gifts, but the disgrace of relenting * unatoned,' that 
Achilles is asked by Phoenix to consider. 

Achilles replies : he need not consider the technical 
point of honour : he is already * honoured of Zeus.' He 
asks Phoenix to stay with him : in the morning they will 
discuss the question of return homewards (620). 

Aias now speaks, a man of few words : * Let us be going. 
Other men accept atonement even for a son's death, but the 
spirit of Achilles is implacable, merely for one girl's sake ' 


Achilles answers : he will not fight till Hector comes 

» Leaf. 


to his own ships, and smirches the ships with fire (655). 
That, indeed, is his private point of honour throughout the 
whole epic, till Patroclus falls. * But about mine own hut 
and ship I ween that Hector, for all his eagerness, will be 

Odysseus returns to the council and reports his ill-speed. 
Aias and the heralds are his witnesses (688-9). Diomede 
says that they must let Achilles be. He will fight when 
* his heart biddeth and God arouseth him,* that is, after the 
death of Patroclus— one of the half-conscious presentiments 
common in the Iliad. The chiefs will fight in the morning. 

Then men turn to sleep. 

The argument of Mr. Grote, Mr. Leaf, ' and others, is 
that all the splendid scene of the Embassy is inconsistent, 
first with the speech of Achilles, next day (in book xi. 609), 
when the battle goes against the Greeks. * Nmv^ mcthinks 
that the sons of the Achoeans will stand in prayer about my 
knees, for intolerable need comes upon them.' We need 
only lay stress on the * now I ' and there is no inconsistency 
in Achilles' enjoyment of his triumph. As Mr. Monro 
says, in his note on the line, * it is possible that Achilles 
intends an insulting reference to the Embassy.' To our- 
selves it seems not so much probable as unmistakably 

The passages in book xvi. supposed to be inconsistent 
with the account of the Embassy are to the following effect. 

Patroclus comes weeping to Achilles (xvi. 3). The best 
of the Greeks are wounded ; but Achilles is implacable. 

* Surely the grey sea bare thee and the sheer cliffs, so 
untoward is thy spirit.' 

Patroclus asks leave at least to don the armour of 
Achilles, and lead the Myrmidons to the rescue. 

Achilles replies, first, by recounting his wrongs. * Hut 

> Companion^ pp. 170, 171, 212. 

K 2 


we will let bygones be bygones. No man may be angry for 
ever, only I deemed that I would not cease from my wrath till 
battle came to my own ships ' (xvi. 60). This he had said in 
book i. * But thou, Patroclus, don my armour, and lead 
the Myrmidons. The Trojans would not tarry when they 
saw me, * if mighty Agamemnon were but kindly disposed 
to me' (xvi. 72). Now, if Achilles, in this remark, has 
merely in view Agamemnon's offers of atonement, the in- 
consistency is glaring. But does not Achilles mean, * the 
Trojans would not be here about the camp at all, if 
Agamemnon's heart were right towards me ' ? He had for 
very long been on ill terms with Agamemnon ; the affair of 
Briseis had only brought an old enmity to a head. Besides, 
the argument of Mr. Leaf and Mr. Grote (on this point) 
does not hold water. They reason thus. Achilles, in 
book xvi., says, * If Agamemnon were but friendly to me, 
our sorrows would never have happened.' But Agamemnon 
is friendly, they say : he has offered priceless atonement. 
Therefore the poet who put these words into the mouth of 
Achilles in xvi. knew nothing of the offer in ix. Therefore 
the book in which the offer is made is later than book xvi. 
But this is only convincing if by the words 

if by the * kindliness ' Achilles meant the feelings implied by 
Agamemnon's offer. But he does not regard that offer as a 
proof of such feelings in Agamemnon as he desires. In 
book ix. 345 he denies the sincerity of Agamemnon : * Let 
him not tempt me that know him full well : he shall not pre- 
vail. . . . He hath taken my meed of honour, and hath 
deceived me.' Thus, if book ix. be genuine, the words of 
Achilles in xvi. are not inconsistent He is angry vrith 
Agamemnon's whole conduct towards him, culminating, as 
it did, in the seizure of Briseis, and the offer of atonement 


seems to him insincere. Nothing but utter defeat and 
humiliation will appease his anger. 

There remains another so-called inconsistency in Achilles' 
speech (xvi. 82-86). He is giving advice to Patroclus : 
* But do thou obey, even as I shall put into thy mind the 
end of my commandment, that in my sight thou mayst win 
great honour and fame of all the Danaans, and they may give 
me back again that fairest maiden, and thereto add glorious 
gifts.' His counsel is that Patroclus shall do no more than 
merely drive the Trojans * from the ships,' and then return, 
not fight longer, apart from Achilles, for * thereby wilt thou 
lessen mine honour.' Moreover, there will be danger from 
Apollo, a protector of the Trojans — another example of un- 
conscious prediction. Then Achilles wishes that Trojans 
and Achaeans might perish together, while he and Patroclus 
alone survive to *undo the sacred coronal of Troy.* Here 
Mr. Leaf insists that the passage on the restoration of 
Brise'is is inconsistent : her restoration and the gifts have 
been offered already. * Those who would defend the unity 
of the Iliad have therefore to expel these lines, but without 
the slightest warrant.' ' And here occurs a humorous example 
of criticism. Even Colonel Mure, for once untrue to his 
glorious colours, would like to regard the lines on Briseis 
(85, 86) as an interpolation, so inconsistent with the offer 
in book ix. does he hold them to be.*-' 

Meanwhile Hentze and Fick also would excise the lines 
as inconsistent with their private theories. Mr. Leaf thinks 
their reasons *the result of a parti pris,^ But he suspects 
the lines in xviii. and xix. which refer to the Embassy, 
they being contradictory of his theory (xviii. 448 ; xix. 141) 
The passages where they occur are * later accretions.' 

There is, obviously, no end to this method, if partisans 

' Companion^ p. 272. 

- Literature of Atuicnt Greece^ 2nd edition, vol. i. p. 282, note. 

ti <^ 


of either side are to cut out just whatever they find incon- 
venient In truth, the passage in book xvi. 85, far from being 
inconsistent with the Embassy, actually refers to it In 
the first place, though Achilles refused atonement from 
Agamemnon^ before fire came on the ships, there is no reason 
why he should not accept it now from all the Danaans at 
large, after fire had come on the ships, and as a tribute to 
the valour of his beloved Patroclus. The total change of 
circumstances may naturally produce a change of temper. 
The resolution framed in one mood (like the resolve to sail 
homewards) may be altered (as after the speech of Phoenix 
in book ix.) in altered circumstances and in. another mood. 
So much for the alleged inconsistency. 

Again, there is clear reference in book xvi. to the Embassy 
and to the speech of Phoenix therein. Achilles was there 
warned by the example of Meleager, who, on account of his 
late relenting, never received his promised atonement at all. 
This Achilles remembers, and bids Patroclus confine him- 
self to driving the foe from the ships (xvi. 87). Patroclus is 
thus restricted in his action for two reasons : first, if he gain 
too decisive a victor}', Achilles, like Meleager, will risk losing 
his atonement ; secondly, Patroclus will be in peril of the 
wrath of Apollo, before which, in the event, he fell. 

With this interpretation (and the meaning is perfectly 
clear, if we understand heroic ideas of the point of honour), 
there is no inconsistency in the passages of books ix. and 
xvi., but rather the closest agreement.^ 

' This had been written before the writer obser\*ed the same 
opinions in Mr. Monro's note to xvi. 84-86, where Mr. Monro also 
points out the connection between the words of Phoenix in book ix. and 
those of Achilles in book xvi. Mr. Monro, however, thinks that lines 
84-86, about Briseis, may have been interpolated by some rhapsodist, 
and may have been suggested by the words, in 90, 

(* thou wilt lessen mine honour ') — 


So it appears to us : we see no inconsistency when 
a passionate hero changes his mind with a change of circum- 
stances. We see absolute consistency of sentiment and 
manners, just where glaring incongruity of facts startles a 
number of critics. But we must ever beware of the idola 
specus — the fallacies of personal prepossession. Our pre- 
possession, as lovers of poetry, is in favour of the unity of the 
Iliad. The prepossessions of Mr. Leaf, Mr. Grote, Mr. Jebb, 
and other critics are in favour of separatism. Thus Mr. Leaf 
writes that the speech of Achilles, in xvi. 60-61, 71-73, 
84-86, * is not a mere superficial inconsistency ... it is a 
contradiction at the very root of the story, as flagrant as if 
Shakespeare had forgotten in the fifth act of Macbeth that 
Duncan had been murdered in the second. To suppose 
that the same intellect which prepared the Embassy to 
Achilles by the eighth book, and wrought it out in such 
magnificence of detail in the ninth, could afterwards com- 
pose a speech, so different and yet so grand, in entire ob- 
livion of what had gone before, is to demand a credulity 
rendering any rational criticism impossible.' * 

Who is to decide ? Mr. Monro, and we ourselves, find 
no incongruity, but, on the other hand, close congruity 
of character and manners, and an actual implicit reference 
to the scene of the Embassy. Mr. Leaf says that such 
credulity renders any rational criticism impossible. Again 
it is Mr. Leaf who, to us, seems credulous. 

He imagines a great poet adding a magnificent scene to 
a whole epic composed by a predecessor. And he supposes 
this second great poet to have introduced a blunder as 
glaring as it is superfluous — a blunder so great that it must 

* which some rhapsodist wished to make more explicit.' No excision, 
at all events, is necessary in the cause of consistency, nor could seem 
necessary to anyone who understands the heroic temper and the 
manners of the heroic age. 



be recognised by every rational listener or reader. Now, if 
it were, in any unexplained way, at any date, possible for a 
new poet to introduce books viii. and ix., that poet must 
have had every freedom of action. A stroke of his stylus, 
or needle, or pen, if he wrote, would have scratched out the 
* inconsistencies * of Achilles's speech in book xvi. If he 
did not write, he would omit them in recitation, and it 
seems to be the hyf)othesis that his version was, somehow, 
preserved in oral tradition. Then why did he leave the 
lines in book xvi., to ruin the whole structure of an epic 
in which he was so much interested that he sank his own 
fame and his own work in it, rather than win glory by a 
distinct new poem of his own ? Mr. Leaf seems to satisfy 
himself on this head by the excellence of the purpureus 
f annus (book ix.). Its introduction, *at the expense of 
subsequent inconsistencies, is intelligible enough, for such 
a poem has every right to be regarded as an end in itself' 
Elsewhere, Mr. Leaf attributes the blunder to the 'con- 
servatism ' of the Homeric school. Now, if any dramatic 
poet had inferpolated into Macbeth (to use Mr. Leafs own 
example) the most magnificent scenes, turning on the 
denial that Duncan had been murdered, and if he had at 
the same time let the scene of the murder stand, no good 
nature could tolerate the absurdity. No sane poet could 
contemplate such a meaningless outrage. But the poet of 
book ix., on Mr. Leafs theor)', did this very thing. He 
must have been a mischievous mocker, for he stultified him- 
self along with the author in whose work and fame he 
merged his own. He did not take the obvious precaution 
of excising the few lines which, in Mr. Leaf's opinion, make 
the obviousness of his interpolation a thing not to be dis- 
cussed * by rational criticism.' Or was this his cr)'ptic 
method of affixing his private mark to book ix. ? 

To ourselves it appears that book ix., the Rejection of 


the Embassy, is not only not inconsistent, it is inevitable, 
necessary to the tragic development of the plot, necessary 
to our intelligence of the hero's character and to the pro- 
priety of his punishment. 

We are taking Achilles as Homer shows him to us — 
that is, with the passions of an early age. He has a touch 
of the Maori or the Iroquois. Mr. Grote says that the pas- 
sages in book ix. * carry the pride and egotism of Achilles 
beyond even the largest exigencies of insulted honour, and 
are shocking to that sentiment of Nemesis which was so 
deeply seated in the Grecian mind/ This is all quite 
true ; but — such a man was Achilles. Moreover, the word 
Nemesis, in the Herodotean sense, is unknown to Homer. 
Again, Nemesis (as the later Greeks understand it) does 
fall on Achilles. He is punished by his own sin. Patroclus 
falls — Patroclus, more dear to him than Briseis, dearer than 
a wilderness of gifts and fair maidens. Mr. Grote com- 
plains of the * implacability * of a hero who is proverbially 
inexorabilis. We venture to say that when commentators 
call books ix. and xvi. * inconsistent,' they understand 
neither Achilles nor Homer, neither the heroic age nor 
even the conduct of the poem. 

Although the Homeric Greeks did not use the word 
Nemesis in the Herodotean sense, meaning the revenge of 
God and of circumstances on overweening pride, the idea 
was familiar to them. In the conduct of the Iliad, taking 
the poem as a whole. Nemesis falls on Achilles because of 
his superhuman and inexorable pride. This is avenged by 
the death of Patroclus, entailing his own. He alone, of the 
great Achaean heroes, is slain in Troyland. Now, according 
to Mr. Leaf's and Mr. Grote's theories, this Nemesis seems 
far too heavy a punishment for Achilles's offence. What is 
Achilles's offence in Mr. Leaf's theory? First (book i.), he 
stands out of the fight. Next, he prays Zeus to bring de- 

- t^»: 


feat on his countrymen. Then in book xi., which, on Mr. 
Leaf's hypothesis, follows hard on book i., the Aclueans 
have, on the whole, the worst of the battle. In spite of the 
deeds, the aristeia^ of Agamemnon, they are driven to the 
ships. They do not lose the wall, for the wall, on this 
theory, is not there to lose. The twelfth book is regarded 
by Mr. Leaf as a later composition. Of the thirteenth 
book only forty lines (795-837) are left. The fourteenth is 
late. Of the fifteenth only two hundred and thirty>one 
lines, or less (515, or rather 592-746), are left, containing 
the wrath of Hector, and his rush on the ship of Protesilaus ; 
but that rush is checked by Aias with the enormous spear 
for repelling boarders. Then comes book xvi., in which 
Achilles at once yields to the tears of Patroclus, relents, 
and sends his friend into battle. Achilles, then, as Mr. Leaf 
reconstructs the poem, has withdrawn from war ; he has 
brought the Trojans to the ships by his family influence 
with Zeus. But he no sooner learns from Patroclus that 
three Greek heroes are wounded, than he lets bygones be 
bygones to a great extent. We admit that he has sinned ; 
but, if we cut out book ix., he has not sinned against the 
prayer of the humiliated Agamemnon. He has been angry, 
but not implacable. The ninth book, making him impla- 
cable, inexorabilis^ deaf to prayer, ensures his Nemesis, 
makes his punishment intelligible ; yet that book is excised 
as no part of the original epic I 

On Mr. Leaf's theory the famous Wrath, as described 
by the original poet, only lasted for twelve days, apparently 
of peace, in book i. and for part of one day's fighting, 
when it was swallowed up in pity on the first serious 
defeat of the Greeks. Does this wrath, brief and broken in 
effect, deser\'e the terrible Nemesis, the loss of Patroclus, 
the death of Achilles, consequent on his revenge on Hector ? 
Is this the implacable, inexorable Achilles ? Clearly the pun- 


ishment would seem, to an Homeric mind, out of all propor- 
tion to the offence. The crime of Achilles, on which all 
turns, is, we repeat, the refusal of the * Prayers * of the 
Embassy, which Mr. Leaf, and many modern commentators, 
cut out of the original poem, thereby depriving it of its 
raison (Petre. There can be no stronger argument against 
this mutilation of the Iliad.* 

Given book ix.— the refusal of the prayers — ^and 
Achilles's conduct is 'shocking to that sentiment of Nemesis 
which was so deeply seated in the Greek mind,' as Mr. Grote 
says. Take away the book, and his conduct, as Mr. Grote 
seems to agree with us, is not shocking to the sentiment of 
Nemesis. So Mr. Grote excises the very passages which he 
sees to be necessar)-, because the sentiment of Nemesis 
must be shocked before its punishment is provoked. 

Mr. Grote declares that the conduct of Achilles, ad- 
mitting book ix., is * breaking the bruised reed.* Exactly : 
Achilles was not a Christian. Mr. Grote, again, says that, 
in the original prayer of Achilles to Thetis, Achilles only 
asks for honour, redress, and * victory to the Trojans until 
Agamemnon and the Greeks shall bfe bitterly sensible of 
the wTong which they have done to their bravest warrior ' 

* I had written this before noticing that Nutzhorn, in his Die 
EfUsichungnveisc der Homerischen Gcdichtey p. 171, has taken the same 
very obvious point : 

* If the death of Patroclus and the sorrow of Achilles is to be 
** motived," Achilles himself must have sinned. This he does by re- 
jecting, in book ix., the gifts promised by Athene in book i. 212 — 

Kdi iror4 7 01 rpU rSatra xapiffcrtrai ayKabi. Hupa.* 

Hence, as Nutzhorn says, arises the tragic motive, as in Herodotus 
and Sophocles (p. 178). 

All this appears manifest enough to anyone who reads Homer as 
literature. Whoever bases his opinions on a mass of German names 
will find plenty of support for what our literary instinct should tell 
us unaided (Hentze, Anhattg zu flias^ iii. 122 ; vi. 10). 

I40 MR. GROTE'S excisions 

(book i. 409-509). * Hem them among their ships' stems 
about the bay, given over to slaughter,' is what Achilles 
really asks for (i. 409). This is what Zeus promises 
(viii. 473-4), * when these shall fight amid the stems in most 
grievous stress ; ' and this is what Achilles gets, to his sor- 
row. He * has no joy of it.* Thus, before the Embassy, 
Hector * thought to make havoc of the ships ; ' but Hector 
did not reach the ships, and fire one of them, till just before 
Achilles sent out Patroclus to war. Achilles gets his prayer 
fulfilled to the letter, and to his bane. 

To support his case, as we have said, Mr. Grote needs 
excisions in later books. The first is xviii. 448, 456 : * the 
elders of the Achaeans entreated him, and offered many gifts' 
— a plain reference to the * interpolated ' Embassy. Mr. Leaf 
pronounces this * a later accretion,' and it certainly seems to 
differ from the narrative in book xvi. In xviii. 448, Thetis 
is telling the story to Hephaestus, and speaks, Mr. Leaf 
thinks, as if Achilles had sent out Patroclus in consequence 
of the Embassy. Her words are, * Then albeit himself he 
refused to ward destruction from them, he put his armour 
on Patroclus, and sent him to the war.' Mr. Grote says 
that those places, with xix. 192 195, and xix. 243, *are 
specially inserted for the purpose of establishing a connec- 
tion between the ninth book and the nineteenth.' But, if 
it were easy to doctor the epic thus, why were not the equally 
needful excisions made, as in xvi. 86 ? It is really impossible 
to understand these old interpolators. They make this 
and that callida juncfura, and yet they neglect other pas- 
sages which also they should have handled. In xix. 140 i, 
Agamemnon says, * I will send the gifts Odysseus promised 
yesterday,' really the day before yesterday — that is, in 
book ix , which Mr. Leaf excises. Mr. Leaf says that this 
passage, which contradicts his theory, is an interpolation. 
In xix. 192-5, .\gamemnon tells Od)sseus to convey to 


Achilles * the gifts promised yesterday ' — that is, in 
book ix. In xix. 241, the gifts are carried to Achilles, * the 
tripods Agamemnon had promised.* About all this Mr. 
Leaf remarks : * Allusions to the gifts offered in the ninth 
book are found scattered through the scene of the oath, 
and this therefore is also late.^ It is * late ' merely because 
it does not suit the theory of Mr. Leaf and Mr. Grote. The 
ancient Alexandrine critics objected to none of these lines. 
There is no linguistic ground for the charges against them. 
They are simply inconvenient. Mr. Monro points out that 
Mr. Grote must excise more, if he is to excise at all. * If 
192-195 are to go, we cannot keep 238-249, nor 271-281. 
Homer could not make Odysseus go to the tent of Aga- 
memnon and fetch the gifts without being first commanded by 
Agamemnon to do so, and this command is given in lines 192-5. 
It is significant, too, that Ulysses is not told what gifts he 
is to fetch. He simply goes to bring * the gifts,' and he 
finds everything ready to his hand, in a way that would 
be unintelligible unless the episode of book ix. had pre- 

Thus book ix. appears to be a natural and necessary part 
of the story, and, indeed, essential to a knowledge of the 
character of Achilles, and as an explanation of his heavy 
punishment. On the other hand, if we reject it, we are 
driven to make excisions at our own will and fantasy. The 
system which needs these least is, so far, the least un- 

The objection of Bergk (i. 590), that the tone of true 
Homeric poetry is not recognisable in the ninth book, is 
a question of literary taste. The speeches of Achilles are 
famed as the most glorious examples of Homeric rhetoric. 
Are they too rhetorical in the case of a hero outraged in 
his dearest affections and in his honour? This has not 
been the opinion of the world for three thousand years. 


We cannot object to a poet because, when rhetoiic is 
needed, his rhetoric is good. 

*The position of the ninth book in the economy of 
the Iliad is, as Mr. Leaf says, *a point of cardinal import- 
ance in the Homeric question.* We have, therefore, 
examined it with some minuteness, as far as the plot is 
concerned. We have agreed with Mr. Monro, that Mr. 
Grote's arguments about the temper and demands of 
Achilles are based * on modem, or at least post-Homeric, 
sentiment.* Mr. Monro thinks that if the book is an 
addition * it is at least a skilful and effective one.' Now it 
cannot l>e skilful if it is glaringly and needlessly inconsistent. 
Mr. Leaf, on the other hand, as we saw, thinks the inconsis- 
tencies between l>ooks ix. and xvi. so great that to attribute 
them to the same author * demands a credulity rendering 
rational criticism impossible.* We have endeavoured to 
show that no credulity is required ; that we have only to 
read Homer in an Homeric, not in an academic and modern, 
spirit, to see how well books ix. and xvi. agree ; in fact, how 
indispensable each is to the other and to the whole poem. 

It is not on plot alone, however, that the objections to 
book ix. depend. The language is also said to be later than 
that of the original iMi/rtc. Mr. Monro has pointed out 
lines in which the language agrees rather with the Od>'ssey, 
and with books xxiii., xxiv., than with the rest of the 
epic. To readers who attribute all the Iliad and the 
Odyssey also to Homer, or, at least, to his age, this matters 
little. The linguistic peculiarities noted by Mr. Monro 
occur in five lines of book ix. (42, 143, 337, 417, 684). 
In the first (42) is a grammatic form, wc re riiadai, occurring 
only once in the Iliad, and once in the Odyssey.* Next, 
* the use of ir with abstract words is commoner in this lK)ok 
than in the Iliad generally.* Thirdly (337), hi. This is 

* Od. xvii. 21. 


the only instance of the word in Homer/ so, of course, it 
cannot attach this book to the Odyssey. Fourthly (417), 
the *use of the i sing. opt. is very rare in the Iliad.' 
Lastly (684), we have here * the only instance of a y with an 
infinitive in Homer,' which, again, cannot connect the book 
with the Odyssey. These and one or two other linguistic 
peculianties are also noted in Mr. Monro's * Homeric 
Grammar.' The mention of Egypt and of Pytho (Delphi) 
(382, 405) are supposed to show that * the geography is 
later than that of the Iliad.' This consideration may 
influence persons who believe that Delphi and Egypt were 
discovered by Greek geographers after the composition of 
the original M^rcr, and before the composition of the 
Odyssey. If the white barbarians from the North on the 
temple walls at Medinet Habu represent early Greeks, and 
if the prehistoric remains of Greek pottery in Egypt are 
correctly dated, of course the geographical objection, as far 
as Egypt is concerned, falls to the ground.* Mr. Leaf, at 
least, cannot urge it, for he believes in the early dates of 
Greeks in Egypt as assigned by Mr. Flinders Petrie. * The 
legend of the choice of Achilles between two destinies ' 
(ix. 410, xi. 794) is not, to our mind, inconsistent with his 
description of himself in book i. as * short-lived.' He has 
made his choice of *one crowded hour of glorious life' 
(book i. 352). However, this is open to doubt. 

Such are the main arguments against book ix., and they 
may be weighed by the reader. To our mind the book is 
necessary as an exposition of the character of Achilles, and 
also because, if it is to go, we must make many excisions 
in later books at our private pleasure and fantasy. Do the 
linguistic and geographic objections, such as they are, out- 
weigh the completion of the character of Achilles and the 
necessity for arbitrary excisions ? 

' Cf. Flinders Yq\x\^, Journal of Hellenic Society^ xi. 2, 271. 


There remains, in book ix., a passage of curious interest 
This is the introduction of Phoenix, an old Myrmidon, whom 
Peleus sent as a kind of governor or adviser of Achilles 
(ix. 438). As a member of the embassy, he tries to move 
Achilles by a singular story of his own youth. There is 
decidedly nothing like this tale in Homer, and it would 
furnish matter for an Homeric * realistic ' novelist, if such a 
being were imaginable. The father of Phoenix had a 
mistress, which distressed Phcenix's mother. She bade her 
son make love to the mistress, which he did successfully. 
His father then cursed him that he should never have a 
son. Phtenix fled to Peleus, at whose court he was em- 
ployed to bring up Achilles. *Oft hast thou stained my 
doublet with sputtering of wine,' says Phoenix, in the spirit 
of the .-Eschylean nurse of Orestes. Phcenix implores 
Achilles to accept the gifts, and warns him by the example 
of Meleager, who, in similar circumstances, came too late 
to the rescue of his countrymen, and never got the gifts 
that had been promised. Achilles is bidden not to risk 
the gifts by too late repentance. 

This is a curious passage, and Phoenix is strangely 
introduced. At the council in Agamemnon's hut, when it 
is determined to send an embassy, Nestor says (ix. 168), 
* Let Phoenix lead,' accompanied by Odysseus, Aias, and 
the heralds. What was Phoenix — a Myrmidon, and not 
of the first rank — doing at a meeting of the great chiefs ? 
There is a linguistic difficulty later (182, 192-8). In 
describing the faring forth of the embassy, Homer says 
*the twain went along the seashore.' What twain? Mr. 
Monro explains, * Aias and Odysseus, who are the envoys 
proper.' Again, when they reach the hut of Achilles, he is 
singing. Then we read, * the twain went forward, and noble 
Odysseus led.' Why only two, as Phcenix, Odysseus, and 
Aias were the representatives of Agamemnon ? We might 


say that * the twain * are the two heralds, but of the heralds 
we hear no more by name. What became of the heralds? 
But, however we take this — and others explain the dual by 
saying that Phoenix was not originally in the embassy — the 
whole passage is unusual in every way, above all in the 
abrupt and unepic fashion of introducing Phoenix. But 
what could be the motive here of an interpolator ? Phoenix 
often appears later in the Iliad, and is always regarded by 
commentators as a suspicious person. We can offer no 
theory as to the singularly broken manner of his introduc- 
tion ; it is natural to suspect that something has been lost, 
or that much interesting matter has been abruptly intro- 


After a defence, successful or unsuccessful, of book ix., 
it is less necessary to examine very minutely the objections 
against the later books. If our opinion be accepted, as far 
as book ix. is concerned, we have * the inexorable * Achilles, 
whom all the world knows, restored to us as the creation of 
the original poet, and this is our chief concern. We find, 
too, if our argument about book iii. and book vi. is 
accepted, that he who drew this Achilles is also the painter 
of Helen and Andromache — that there are not two poets of 
this genius, but one. The remainder of the Iliad, however, 
cannot be neglected. 

The tenth book is almost universally recognised as an 
addition, and, by some apparently, as a late addition. The 
story, briefly, is this : — After the news of Achilles's refusal to 
listen to the embassy, Agamemnon cannot sleep. He hears 
the flutes and pipes of the Trojans round their fires on the 
plain. Menelaus, too, is wakeful. The pair waken the 
other chiefs, inspect the sentinels, and hold a council 
outside the moat. They determine to send spies to the 




Trojan camp. Odysseus and Diomede set forth ; they 
catch Dolon, a Trojan spy, whom Hector has bribed by 
the promise of the horses of Achilles. From him they 
learn that Rhesus, the Thracian king, has just arrived in 
Troy, that he and his goodly horses are unguarded. They 
slay Rhesus, and drive his horses into camp, to the en- 
couragement of the Greeks. There is a legend that if these 
horses once drank the water of Xanthus, Troy would be 
safe. Homer says nothing of this. 

This episode does not advance the stor)', except in so 
far as it does hearten up the Greeks, and inspirit, for next 
day's fight, the despondent Agamemnon. But the adven- 
ture is not referred to later, unless we find a reference in 
the close companionship of Odysseus and Diomede, in 
book xi. The Iliad can do without the story, as both Mr. 
Grote and Colonel Mure see : the storv cannot do without 
the Iliad. It is useless, except as a jiortion of the Iliad. 
This some of the ancients noted. Though the famous 
Alexandrines say nothing about it, Eustathius, a Byzantine 
of the twelfth century, remarks that, * according to old 
writers, Homer made this lay separately, and Pisistratus 
added it to the Iliad.' This evidence is vague. If it has 
any value, then it implies that Homer did not compose a 
mere series of lays, but an epic, and made this canto 
* separately.' Mr. I^af remarks that the whole story about 
Pisistratus is later than the days of Aristarchus, and, as a 
piece of serious history, is now generally discredited. Nor 
would the canto have any meaning as a separate lay. It 
was meant for its place here, whoever its author may have 
been, and whatever his date. 

As to the character of the book, Mr. Leaf says that the 
style stands almost alone as being * distinctly mannered.' 
Effects are produced *by violent contrasts,' a criticism 
passed on book xxiv. ; but what artist does not produce 


effects by contrasts? Homer is full of contrasts; so is 
Scott. The motives of the story are much confused, and, 
indeed, the tale seems to need the later myth about the 
horses. * The author takes quite a peculiar delight in the 
detailed descriptions of dress and weapons.' There is 
nothing * peculiar ' in this. Homer everywhere rejoices, as 
in the very next book, in detailed descriptions of weapons 
and dress. * The linguistic evidence * contains * pseudo- 
archaic forms,' as Mr. Monro says. But these, we may 
reply, are merely the result of false analog)', an undying 
principle in language.* Mr. Leaf points to such a possible 

* sham archaism ' in x. 346. * It looks as though the poet 
thought that the -/r*, which is so often found in the subjunctive, 
was an arbitrary affix, which might be appended also to the 
optative.' ^ We need not imagine that the poet, who certainly 
was an early poet, reasoned about the -cri ; even now half- 
educated people unconsciously use such false analogies. 
Conscious reasonings and forgeries belong to a much later 
and more pedantic age. But, if the book is really crowded 
with such instances — for example, * the post-Homeric use of 
the article ' ^ — that is a more serious consideration. Mr. 
Leaf ■* says that there are * numerous instances of false 
archaism.' In Introduction to book x. he mentions two, 

* probably ' a third, * with several other possible cases.' The 
words which are hitai Xiyofiem — used only once — may be 
reasonably accounted for by the rather peculiar and hasty 
equipment of an unpremeditated night expedition, the singu- 
lar helmets and other gear, which the poet has to describe.* 

' Sounds and Inflexions in Greek and Latin. King and Cookson, 
pp. 19, 22. 

- La Roche reads irapa^0-hj}(rif which would remove the objection, 
but there is no MS. authority. 

' Monro, introduction to book x. * Companion^ p 191. 

^ The phrase irToKi/jioio ardfia may be * curious,' but it recurs in xix. 


L 2 


But we cannot, with Mr. Monro, regard the ruthlessness of 
Dolon's slaughter, and the midnight havoc, as *akin to 
comedy ' and ' a farcical interlude out of harmony with the 
tragic elevation of the Iliad.' The humour is as cruel as 
that of an Icelandic saga. 

On the other side, we might point to a passage of touch- 
ing sublimity, as where Agamemnon tells Nestor that Zeus 
has planted him * above all men for ever among labours ' 
(x. 89). Compare the words of the wear)- Charlemagne, in the 
Chanson de Roland^ * Deus ! dist li Reis, si peneuse est ma 
vie ! ' Again, consider Agamemnon's anxiety about Mene- 
laus. Him he has not the heart to send as a spy (x. 240), 
just as he was in terror for his sake, in book vi., when 
Menelaus wished to accept the challenge of Hector. As 
an archaic touch, notice lines 152, 153, the spears are set 
upright on their spiked butts, beside the sleeping Greeks.' 
Now we know, from Aristotle, Poetic, xxv., that this piece ot 
drill was by his time disused in Greece, though it survived 
among the Illyrians. Again, it is an Homeric note where 
we are told that the newly arrived horses of Rhesus ' were 
not yet used to dead men,' and had to be led carefully, 
while Odysseus dragged the dead out of the way. Very 
Homeric, too, is the remark that Dolon, the horse-loving 
spy, was an only son, among five sisters. The whole 
episode, as Col. Mure says, ' might naturally suggest itself 
to the mind of a patriotic bard, to relieve a gloomy interval, 
and cheer the drooping spirits of his countrymen.' Homer, 
if we may parody Dr. Johnson, cannot bear to *let the 
Trojan dogs have the best of it.' Virgil ^ thought the 
episode worth imitating, and did not imitate it well. The 
episode, as Christ says, is certainly a pannus hand spernen- 
dus, and the reader may choose between the objections 
which we have stated and the defence which may be urged. 
• Couiparc iii. 135. - .tncid, ix. 167. 

BOOK XI 149 

The whole question of book x. is of no great importance, 
except in one regard. If it were possible, somewhere, 
somehow, to foist a whole book into the sacred text of 
Homer, then it would also be possible to foist many others. 
But how, when, where, and by whom such liberties were 
taken with the literary inheritance ot Greece, especially as 
the labours of Pisistratus are given up for unhistorical, is 
precisely what we do not understand. Bergk, admitting 
that Pisistratus made an edition, thinks the tradition not 


After the eleventh book there is no longer the same 
general agreement between the ideas of Mr. Leaf and Mi. 
Grote. Mr. Leaf retains nearly all book xi., fitting it in, 
as we have seen, to book ii. The book tells of the battle, 
the valour of Agamemnon, his wounding, the assault led 
by Hector, the flesh-wounds of Diomede, Odysseus, and 
Machaon. Achilles, who, on Mr. I^afs showing, is in the 
full tide of wrath, sends Patroclus with kind inquiries for 
the wounded Machaon, who is lunching with Nestor, and 
Patroclus, instead of returning, stops to attend to the 
wounded Eurypylus. The stay was not, in Mr. Leafs view, 
really long, for he now boldly cuts out the wall (built in 
book vii.) and the fighting at the wall altogether. The 
Greeks had been so reckless as not to fortify their position. 
Thus all the twelfth book goes at a blow, taking with it 
Sarpedon's famous address to Glaucus, and Hector's con- 
tempt of omens — * one omen is best, to fight for our countr)\' 
On any consideration of * the grand style,' these passages, of 
course, are the true Homer's, but they must go, and we 
must congratulate the poet on his late collaborator. Of 
xiii. only forty-two lines are left ; of xiv. nothing ; of xv. 
one hundred and forty-two lines (Hector's attack on the 

' See^ Appendix, B. 

- t^vl 

150 MR. (;rote*s view 

ship of Protesilaus, and the defence of Aias), and so we 
reach xvi., where Patroclus appeals to Achilles, with tears 
and is sent into the war, with all the command of Achilles, 
the Myrmidons. We thus lose from the original poem, 
among other things, the celebrated scene in which Hera, 
with the cestus of Aphrodite, beguiles Zeus to love, sleep, 
and forgetfiilness of the war. 

The chief reasons for this wholesale excision are the 
discrepancies as to the confused fighting about the wall. 
We might say, with Thirlwall, that, if the current of the 
poem could make even Wolf forget his critical difficulties 
(as Wolf admits), these inconsistencies * might as easily 
have escaped the poet's attention.' Mr. Leaf admits that 
* when it suits his purpose the poet forgets all about the 
river which runs between the Greek camp and the city of 
Troy.' * Why should we expect him to be more mindful 
of the wall ? Of confused fighting the description is apt 
to be confused, as all history shows, and as most fiction 
attests. * Hard were it for me, like a god, to tell all these 
things,' says the poet in a passage objected to by Zeno- 
dotus. It is hard, and rather too hard. But critics have 
pardoned the poet. Mr. Grote thinks that in the original 
M^vis the existence of the wall was taken for granted ; 
its building was not described, as in book vii. of the 
actual epic. Mr. Grote, therefore, retains books xii., xiii., 
xiv., XV. * I shall not deny,' he says, * that there are per- 
plexities in the detail of events as described in the battles 
at the Grecian wall and before the ships, from the eleventh 
to the sixteenth books, but they appear only cases of partial 
confusion^ such as may reasonably be ascribed to imper- 
fections of text ; the main sequence remains coherent and 
intelligible. We find no considerable events which could 
be left out without breaking the thread, nor any incon- 

' Compatiion^ p. 16. 

MR. leaf's view 151 

gruity between one considerable event and another.' He 
recognises * congruity of structure, and conformity to open- 
ing promise.' Mr. Leaf, on the other hand, sees far 
greater discrepancies. To his mind it is easy to account 
for these by ill-contrived additions and ill-made junctures, 
and it is also easy for Mr. Leaf to believe that the excel- 
lence of the poetry was within reach of a new poet. This 
Mr. Matthew Arnold was unable to suppose. * The matter 
affords no data for arguing, but the grand source from 
which conviction, as we read the Iliad, keeps pressing in 
upon us, that there is one poet of the Iliad — one Homer — 
is precisely this nobleness of the poet, this grand manner.* 
The Iliad * bears the magic stamp of a master.' ' 
But this is a question of taste, not of argument.'^ 
The language and style of the tenth book, then, certainly 
did not shock the orthodoxy of Mr. Arnold. Several 
Isaiahs he admitted, not several Homers. 

On the earlier part of book xi., and its supposed 
connection with the beginning of book ii. as part of the 
original poem, we have already spoken in treating of 
the second book. The book received in old times the 
name of * The Aristeia of Agamemnon.' In lines 1-283 
the hero behaves with courage and wins great success, 
driving the Trojans from the plain to the Scaean Gates. He 
is wounded by Coon on the arm and retires into camp. 
Hector, who has held back in obedience to Zeus, while 

' Lectures on TranslcUing Horner^ i. 45. 

- It is curious to find Mr. Jebb arguing that what Mr. Arnold 
meant by the * grand manner ' is only the conventional epic diction. 
Mr. Arnokl might seem to have guarded himself partly against this 
objection by his remarks on the hexameter as superior, even in the 
hands of Quintus .Smyrnieus and Coluthus, to the verse of the 
balladists. Quintus has the epic diction, the epic instrument, but 
Mr. Arnold does not claim for him *the grand manner,* though he 
calls Quintus *a poet of merit,' as he certainly is. 



Agamemnon raged, now comes forward, but is repulsed 
by Diomede, whom Paris wounds on the foot with an arrow. 
Odysseus alone and staunchly upholds the fray ; indeed, 
in this stind Odysseus fights a losing battle more resolutely 
than almost any hero of either side. He is wounded, is 
succoured by Menelaus and Aias, and retires. Machaon, 
on the left, is wounded by Paris, and, in Nestor's company, 
he withdraws to Nestor's camp. Hector comes up from 
the left to engage Aias. Eurypylus, arriving to aid Aias, is 
wounded by Paris. Achilles sees Nestor and Machaon 
retiring, and calls out Patroclus from the hut. ^ NaWj 
I think,' he says, * the Achaeans will stand in prayer about 
my knees, for need no longer tolerable comes upon them ' 
(xi. 608 610). He then sends Patroclus to inquire for 
Machaon, * and this to Patroclus was the beginning of evil.' 
When he reaches Nestor's hut he declines to sit down, but 
Nestor ver)- characteristically tells a long story of his youth, 
and ends by reminding Patroclus how Menoetius, his father, 
had bidden him counsel Achilles wisely. Now is the time 
for him to urge Achilles to the war. At the least, Achilles 
might send Patroclus to lead the Myrmidons, and might 
lend him his own armour, * if perchance the Trojans may 
take thee for him ' (796, 800). This advice is a turning- 
point, leading to the death of Patroclus, to Achilles's recon- 
ciliation with the Greeks, and to the death of Hector. 
It is obnoxious to Mr. Leaf, as, in his opinion, the wearing 
of Achilles's armour by Patroclus (book xvi.) is late, and 
was merely composed to lead up to the description of the 
new arms, made by Hephaestus in book xviii. Patro- 
clus then runs with the message to Achilles, but, meet- 
ing the wounded Eurypylus, he takes pity on him, and tends 
his hurt, as one surgeon is wounded and the other is fight- 
ing. Patroclus cuts out the arrow and remains with Eury- 
pylus all through the fights in books xiii., xiv., xv. * The 


sending of Patroclus is itself an anticipation of the all- 
important change in the temper of Achilles. Thus it pre- 
pares us for that development of the story which we have in 
books xvi.-xxii., and upon which the incomparable dramatic 
interest of the Iliad mainly depends ' (Monro). 

According to the theory of the original M^nc this 
change of mood occurs rather early in the first day of 
recorded fighting after Achilles conceived his anger, or, at 
least, after his long-cherished grudge came to a head. If 
we believe that the Iliad as it stands is, on Ihe whole, the 
original poem, the Wrath has endured longer, and is much 
more implacable. There are passages in book xi. which the 
believers in the possibility of disengaging the original Mfjnt: 
are obliged to expunge. The long story of Patroclus with 
the wounded Eurypylus is objected to by Bergk (i. 600). 
There is here an * unnatural dislocation ' of the story, 
* contrary to all rules of the poetic art.' These passages, 
therefore, must be from a later hand, though why 
the later poet should be more ignorant of, or indifferent 
to, the laws of art than an earlier poet we are left 
to guess. Idomeneus, who takes a share in the fighting in 
book xi., is regarded as an interpolated hero of the dia- 
skeuast's. The words of Achilles, * Now will the Greeks stand 
in prayer about my knees,' disregard, it is urged, the fact 
that, according to book ix., the Greeks have already im- 
plored his compassion. With this objection we have 
already dealt. The drinking scene in Nestor's hut is the 
diaskeuast's— * here he is quite at home.' He has interwoven 
an old lay on Nestor into his ruthlessly tedious speech. He 
has introduced the wounded Eurypylus to find a motive 
for the long stay of Patroclus. Old work and new are 
loosely combined. 

Mr. Leaf also admits, as we have seen, the existence of 
unoriginal parts in book xi. The aristeia of Agamemnon 

154 homer's NESTOR 

followed the dream-scene in book ii. The long yam of 
Nestor is * one of the clearest cases of interpolation in tlie 
Iliad. It is singularly out of place at the moment when 
Patroclus has refused even to sit down, owing to the urgency 
of his mission.' If Mr. Leaf has never met an intelligent 
old bore, whom no one could check by refusing to sit down, 
we ' envy his inexperience of misfortune. The endless 
reminiscences of Nestor are, in fact, most peculiarly in 
place when they are * singularly out of place.' The remark 
that the stor)^ is * full of words and expressions elsewhere 
peculiar to the Odyssey ' is a graver objection, at least to 
those who ascribe the epics to different authors. But * full 
of words and expressions peculiar to the Odyssey ' is rather 
a strong statement of the facts. In ninety-seven lines 
(665 762) Mr. Leaf notes five such examples ; one of them 
also occurs in book xxiv., which is supposed to be closely 
related to the Odyssey. They are (677) fjXida, (688) 
datTftevor, which the Odyssey uses (in another sense), (695) 
hp. iiovTt^, which the Odyssey naturally, on account of the 
wooers, has occasion to use seven times ; (735) i/Aioc 
ipaiduiy ; (774) aXfico*', a chalice, used in Odyssey and 
Iliad, book xxiv. If this be an interpolation, the motive of 
the interpolator is obscure, especially if *an old lay' of 
Nestor^ was used, for then he had not even the motive 
of vanity, which might make him insert his own composi- 
tion. Mr. Leaf conjectures it is * designed to glorify 
Nestor,' by representing him, we suppose, as bestowing 
all his tediousness on a i)erson in a hurr}-. Perhaps it may 
be suggested that the glories of Nestor were inserted by 
Pisistratus, as a descendant of Nestor's family. But Mr. 
Leaf does not believe in the Pisistratean recension, and the 
old opinion is that Nestor, being an aged man, is naturally 
garrulous about his early exploits. Fick attributes fhe piece 

' Bergk, i. 601. 


to a poet of Colophon, a colony of Pylos, Nestor's city. 
The truth is that Nestor is one of Homer's bores, answering 
to * Scott's bores,' people like the Baron Bradwardine, of 
whom it is complained that Scott gives us too much. And 
Homer gives us a great deal of Nestor. Perhaps the 
Germans will argue that the Baron's speeches in Waver/ey 
are interpolated by a diaskeuast, probably a Forbes of 
Pitsligo. Mr. Leaf is uncertain as to Bergk's theory that 
Eurypylus is merely brought in to account for Patroclus's 
long absence from Achilles — an absence needed for the 
introduction of books xii.-xv. His lingering ' is not incon- 
sistent with the character of the " kindly " hero.' It may 
be observed that in an admitted part of the original M^nc 
(book xi. 62) occurs a form not elsewhere read in Homer, 
but read in the late Hesiodic Shield of Heracles, Had 
this only been found in what the theory required to explain 
as an * interpolation,' much play would have been made with 
it, as a proof of late insertion. But the author of the original 
M^i'ic is a privileged person. The whole book, according 
to an army of German commentators, is a mere patchwork 
of interpolations. The conduct of Zeus in withdrawing 
Hector (163, 164) and in sending Iris with the command to 
abstain from war while Agamemnon rages (186) gives rise 
to many objections. The different appearances of Paris 
and Hector in different parts of the field also cause dis- 
quisition, * but these difficulties are not removed by 
Lachmann's separate "lays," nor, indeed, by any theory 
of the Iliad ' ( Monro). ^ A singular theory of the wounded 
Odysseus is advanced by Usener. In line 489 Aias 
slays four Trojans — Pandocus, Lysandrus, Pyrasus, and 
Pylartes all which names Usener regards as titles of 
Hades, king of the dead. He therefore infers the exis- 

' * In details such as this il is useless to look for exact accuracy ' 


tence of one old lay, in which Aias, who rescues Odys- 
seus, fights Hades. Now Odysseus is here compared to 
a stag wounded by an arrow, and pursued by jackals ; after 
which the jackals are driven off by a lion. Usener discovers 
that works of art in which a lion devouring a stag is 
attacked by an archer existed in old Assyrian art ; that the 
Phoenicians and Cyprians understood the lion to be the 
god of the under- world, who fights for the dead with the 
good genius ; the archer (Heracles) is the good genius, 
who rescues souls from the God of Death. Thus Hades, 
like a lion, is seizing Odysseus, Aias is the god who 
rescues him from the lion in some ancient lay, and all this 
is connected with figures on early coins of Phocaea, derived 
from Phoenician myths. Consequently this part of the Iliad 
is based on an old Phocaean lay.' This picturesque hyjx)- 
thesis may be left to the taste and fancy of the reader. 

It may be remarked that Mr. Leaf ^ regards the account 
of Agamemnon's shield fi^om Cyprus as an anachronism and 
an interpolation. Cyprus is mentioned in Odyssey viii. 363, 
where Aphrodite goes to Paphos in Cyprus. But this is a 
* very late passage,' and except in such passages, * Cyprus is 
quite unknown to both Iliad and Odyssey.' Yet Temese, 
in Cyprus, is the place whither Mentes is sailing for copper, 
in Odyssey i. 184. Hence, indeed, comes our 'copper' — 
Kupfer, {£$ Cyprium. Is Odyssey i. 184 also * very 

This is an example of the method of criticism. Some 
point is to be * unknown to Homer/ This is proved by 
alleging that all passages which include the point are later 
interpolations. But this process occasionally leads a critic 
rather too far, and he must give up his thcor)-, or proclaim 

' Ilenlze, Iliad, xi. ^'^ {Atthang). 
' Companion^ pp. 1 19, 203. 
' See Ameis's note, Od. i. 184. 


that Odyssey i. 184 is interpolated, or late It is, according 
to Wilamowitz Moellendorff, but he places Temese in Italy J 



The battles beside the ships and the wall as described in 
books xii.- XV. of the Iliad are confused, indeed, and the 
description of them is not very clear. But the story is 
brief, the skirmishes are few, the account is lucid, compared 
with the battles of the commentators on the subject, where 
Lachmann wars upon the left, and Nutzhorn on the right. 
Benicken and Baeumlein, Holm and Diintzer, Gerlach and 
Cauer, Kochly, Jacob, Kiene, Giseke, Genz, Bernhardy, 
Bergk, are but a few of the heroes in this conflict, every 
man fighting gallantly for his own hand over the pro- 
strate body of Homer. The poet is torn and mangled worse 
than Hector's corpse ; excisions, fragments of early lays, 
huge cantles by diaskeuasts (corrupters and interpolators) 
are all mentioned, and the cantos are carved and re- 
arranged by everyone in accordance with his own theory. 
Before attempting to examine the objections, it must be re- 
peated that the cantos on confused fighting are naturally 
confused. Further, as Mr. Monro insists, we know nothing 
of the tactics of Homeric war in such remarkable circum- 
stances as a retreat on a fortified camp protecting ships 
drawn up on shore, which themselves are used as cover by 
the Greek besiegers, now besieged in their turn. Once 
more, unluckily, the gods have many a stroke in the 

It has already been said that the inconsistency of the 
mythical conception of the gods makes their action always 
puzzling. Their limited omniscience and omnipotence are 

* PhiloL Untersuch, pp. 6-27. 

J * 


constantly bewildering us, merely because the poet was in- 
evitably without a clear idea of their nature. Consistency 
cannot be expected from gods, would be suspicious if it 
were found, and would be contradictory of the very nature 
of mythology. 

As to the confusion in the narrative it cannot be cleared 
up, as Mr. Monro says, * by any theory of the Iliad.' 
One thing we must remember. General Marbot, in his 
memoirs, declares that he could not understand the accounts 
which military writers give, even of the battles in which he 
himself was engaged. It is no wonder, then, if we find it 
difficult to understand a peculiarly intricate fight as de- 
scribed by Homer. The reader must fix his attention 
closely on the text of the poet, observing two points : 
first, the part played by the wall in the struggle, next 
the probable time occupied. At the end of book xi. we 
left Patroclus attending to the wounds of Eur)rpylus in 
Nestor*s hut. Meanwhile the tide of war was surging 
round the fortifications. In xv. 390-410, Patroclus rises 
from his surgery and conversation, to find the Trojans 
rushing on the wall itself, and a panic among the Greeks, 
though the Greeks are not absolutely broken and the 
Trojans have not yet penetrated * among the ships and 
huts ' (409). How long may the battle have been going on ? 
How are we to understand the details of the attack ? 

One difficulty is that we have not a clear account of the 
wall. In vii. 438, we learn that the Greeks made gates in 
it, with a causeway for driving chariots across. Now, Ari- 
starchus held that there was but one gate, * with much show 
of reason,' says Mr. Monro.* On the whole, opinion is in 
favour of several gates in the wall. 

The description of fighting in book xi. at the moment 

' Sec Leaf, notes in xii. 120, 175, 340, insisting on j^rra/ gates, 
but the last passage was condemned by Zcnodotus. On line 340, 


when Nestor and Eurypylus left the mellay, shows the 
Trojans pressing the Greeks in spite of the stubborn 
defence of Aias. Some change in the battle would 
occur in the interval occupied by the scenes in Nestor's 
hut. The twelfth book opens by alleging that the wall did 
not long protect the Greeks, and diverges into an account 
(presumed to be late) of the destruction of the wall by 
Poseidon, after the fall of Troy. We then hear that Hector 
cannot urge his horses through the fosse (xii. 50) and the 
palisade. We must conceive, first the sea-bay, then the 
shore, with the Greek ships drawn up, probably in a double 
row, the huts occupying ground between the vessels of the 
inner row. Then there would be some space of ground, 
then the wall, the palisade, the fosse, through which, at 
the gates, opened causeways. Polydamas advises Hector 
to dismount his men and attack on foot, leaving the horses 
to the charioteers. This is done, and five companies are 
arrayed. It cannot be pretended that a clear military ac- 
count of these five battalions is given throughout, (i) Hec- 
tor and Polydamas lead the first company ; (2) Paris, the 
second : (3) Helenus and Deiphobus, his brothers, com- 
mand the third, with Asius ; (4) ^neas leads the fourth 
body ; and (5) Sarpedon the allies.* 

One warrior in the onslaught does not dismount. This 
is Asius, of company three, who drives his chariot over the 
bridge, against the gate at the left of the Greek camp, 
(xii. 120). The doors are open, but two sons of the Lapithae 

Mr. Leaf decides against Aristarchus, and in favour of several gates. 
Mr. Monro here agrees with Mr. Leaf. 

' The allies are more numerous than the Trojans (ii. 130), according 
lo Mr. I»eaf, though the passage which he refers to in book ii. does 
not assert this in so many words. *The sons of the Achseans out- 
number the Trojans. But allies from many cities are therein, and 
they hinder iiic perforce.' But the inference may be correct. 


rush out, and Asius, in baffled anger, appeals to Zeus 
(xii. 164-172).' 

Meanwhile (xii. 199) the company of Hector, in the 
centre, are still craning at the fosse, and the warriors 
are terrified by the omen of a snake and an eagle. Poly- 
damas bids Hector withdraw his troops ; the Greeks, even 
in Periclean times, were the slaves of omen. Hector 
answers in the noble words, * one omen is best, to fight 
for our own country.* We should be sorry to refuse this 
speech to Homer. Hector therefore leads on and the 
Greek towers are injured, but their wall of shields is un- 
broken. Meanwhile the two Aiantes are * every\*'here ' on 
the wall (265) nor would Hector have broken the gates, had 
not Sarpedon come on, with his famous address to Glaucus, 
* I would not fight, were we to be immortal, this battle once 
escaped, nor send thee to war, but, since ten thousand fates 
of death on every side beset us -On !' So (290-492) he 
drags down a strip of the battlement, leaves the wall bare, 
and * makes a path for many,' a path which they did not 
hold (399). By this time (340) all the gates had been shut 
Menestheus, whose tower was threatened by Sarpedon's 
men, sends a messenger to the Aiantes for aid, and the Tela- 
monian Aias, with Teucer, speeds to Menestheus, thereby 
relieving Hector in the centre. Teucer wounds Glaucus, 
a wound that still maims him in book xvi., when Sarpedon, 
in that book, has fallen before Patroclus. The Aiantes re- 
pulse the Lycians under SarpKidon, and Hector leads a new 
attack on the central gates, bursts them in with a heavy 
stone, and enters, while the Danaans flee among the ships. 
Here ends book xii.*-* 

' This Meads to nothing whatever' (Leaf), *and the Iliad does not 
know the name of the Lapithae* (Hentze), though Nestor, in i. 263, 
mentions Pirithous, the father of the two Lapithae of book xii. 

- In this book Nitzsch, though converted to conservatism, would 


In the long book xiii. there are assuredly some 
difficulties in the conduct of the poem. The question is, 
are the difficulties to be ascribed to interpolation, and that 
very unskilled, or must we allow for * our ignorance of the 
conditions of Homeric warfare, and the tendency to lay 

have excised all the passage alx)Ut Sarpedon (290-429) as an interpo- 
lation. Mr. Leaf points out that Hector first actually entered the fort, 
whereas in xvi. 558, Sarpedon is spoken of, when dead, as he who 
first 'leaped within the wall.' Apparently he only • opened a path.* 
which he could not hold. He did not force a gate, but made the wall 
easier to climb. He may have been just within when Aias thrust him 
out. * He gave ground a little from the battlement.' A modern 
military controversy about General Roberts in his youth may remind 
us how difficult it is to insure absolute accuracy on such a point. The 
discrepancy can hardly be called a discrepancy. Had Hector and 
Sari^edon lived, their friends might, as in mtKlern times, have squabbled 
about their precedence. ' Such is the appearance of war,' as the 
Maori epic says. In xii. 438, it is said of Hector, as later (by a Greek) 
of Sarpedon, that he 'first leaped within the wall.' Really the point 
should give no trouble. Patroclus (xvi. 558) may surely describe the 
feat of Sarpedon in the same words without vexing the souls of com- 
mentators. Possibly an objection might be taken because Mcncstheus, 
the Athenian, is mentioned. The Athenians were suspected of having 
interpolated the praises of their hero in the * Catalogue,' ii. 552-556. 
But the Athenian share in the war is so small that it is an argument 
against Athenian interpolation. If large interpolation was possible, 
here was the occasion for it, and here, in the Athenians of letters, were 
the men who could have done it. But there is no aristcia of Mene- 
stheus. In book xiv. 136-672, is a long glorification of two Cretans, 
Idomeneus and Merioncs. This * strongly suggests' — to Mr. Leaf — 
* an interpolation for the special glory of Cretan heroes.' * The Cretans 
were always liars,' but if interpolations to please national vanity were 
going, the Athenians were much more likely people to foist in an 
arisieia of their man, Menestheus, especially if Pisistratus and the 
noted forger, Onomacritus, had such an opportunity as Wolf declares, 
and really made the Iliad. The absence of any Athenian aristcia is a 
strong proof that interpolations for the glorification of national vanity 
were not made at all. But see Leaf, note to xiii. 685, where the 
Athenians are chiefs of the lonians, here only mentioned. 



undue stress on isolated expressions*?* The gods, too, 
intervene now with the usual results. 

The story of book xiii. runs thus : — Hector and his 
following are now within the wall, on the centre. Are the 
other Trojans, those of the left brigade, also within the 
wall ? Certainly many of them are. They are said to have 
poured in at the gates (xii. 469-471) and 'climbed over it 
in their multitude ' (xiii. 87^ taking advantage of the 
diversion by Hector. At the opening of the book, Zeus, 
for no particular reason, turns his eyes from the war, and 
amuses himself by watching the Northern races, who drink 
mare's milk. He believes that his threat will keep the other 
gods from interfering. Poseidon, however, who has not 
intruded before, leaves his watch-tower in Samothrace, 
and comes out from the sea to encourage the Greeks, in 
the form of Calchas. He also takes other shapes. He 
urges on the Aianles. Oileus's son recognises him for a god 
by * the tokens of his feet and knees,' whatever that may 
mean (among some savage races supernatural beings have 
their legs turned the wrong way about), * and the gods are 
easy to discern,' which contradicts what we gather from 
Athene's opening the eyes of Diomede to know gods 
(v. 127). Poseidon, in any case, gathers the Greeks round 
the Aiantes in the centre. They repulse Hector, who, 
having entered, was making for the ships, and Meriones, 
breaking his spear on the shield of Deiphobus, goes to his 
tent for another. Now Deiphol^us is of the third company, 
so some, at least, of that company, who were originally 
on the left, are now within the wall. The strife goes on, 
and Poseidon sends Idomeneus who, oddly enough, is not 
armed, to array himself and fight. The Homeric heroes, 
like Menelaus in book vii., and other examples to be noted 
later, arm and disarm with singular celerity. Idomeneus 

' Monro, IntrcKluction to Ii<x>k xv. 


has here been tending a wounded coiprade — curiously, 
anonymous. Meriones, his companion in arms, and he, 
now, after much parley, join the battle on the left, leaving 
Hector to deal, in the centre, with the Aiantes. The 
aristeia of Idomeneus lasts from 330 to 672. Mr. Leaf 
says, * the wall is here treated as non-existent.' Naturally, 
for the fight here is (xiii. 333) * by the sterns of the ships,' 
within the wall, which the Trojans (xiii. 87) * have climbed 
in their multitude.' Asius, somehow, has got his chariot 
in ; and why not, as the gates had been entered (xii. 
469-471) and they had causeways for chariots.^ Asius 
is now killed by Idomeneus \ ^ his chariot is taken by 
Amphilochus ; he is partly avenged by Deiphobus, and, 
Idomeneus coming against him, Deiphobus calls for aid 
to /Eneas, of the fourth company. Clearly the Trojans, 

* in their multitude,' are within the wall, for Paris, and 
Agenor, of the second company, are all here (xiii. 490). 
It is also apparent that the attacking parties have become 
blended, an occurrence frequent even in modern warfare. 
The battle rolls to and fro, Meriones, Idomeneus, Helenus, 
and ^neas, being chief antagonists. On the whole, the 
Greeks have the advantage on the left, whither Idomeneus 
and Meriones carried their swords. Hector, in the centre, 
is ignorant of this (xiii. 674). From line 683, we learn 
that chariots are now engaged here (inside, apparently), 

* where the wiall was built lowest.' This is an obvious 
confusion. Mr. Leaf ascribes it to * the unskilfulness of 
the interpolator,' who, really, as he had the text before 

' xii. 340. There is a various reading. Aristarchus read iraaai 
yap ^jT^Jxaro, meaning * the whole gate was shut,' for he believed that 
there was only one gate. The ordinary reading is irdffas yhp ^iryx«To, 

* the noise had reached all th^ gates, irocai, says Mr. Leaf, must 
mean * all the gates. There is no point in saying the whole gate. * 

- See Mr. Leafs objections, xiii. 384, ttote. He supposes that 
there was no wall in the original. 

M 2 



him, must have been little better than an idiot On the 
whole, an error on the part of the original poet is at least 
as probable as a mistake by an interpolator. But the 
mention of lonians (685) for the only time in Homer, and 
of the Phthians, with the immense effect produced by the 
fire of the light-armed Locrians (the Locrian Aias only 
wears a linen corslet, ii. 529), under cover (721) certainly 
donne furieusement d> penstr. Bowmen may do much in 
Homer, when Paris or Teucer is the archer ; but to ascribe 
a great effect to the artiller)' of nameless men is most 
unusual. Still, we know little of Homeric tactics. When the 
ships were in danger, the whole force would fight as it could, 
whatever its defensive armour. Thus, several facts combine 
to make all this passage at least suspicious. Mr. Leaf 
suspects * false archaism.' The interpolator, he thinks, calls 
the Ix)crians light-armed archers and slingers, because, in his 
own time, they were twt light-armed. But this is, perhaps, 
to consider too curiously. Still, what with the unusual fact, 
the unusual name, and the introduction of chariots where 
we expect none, the passage needs defence.* As to the 
chariots, however, we have often remarked that as Hector 
had broken down the gate, and as the gate certainly had 
a carriage-way, or bridge, leading to it, chariots may have 
been driven across. The motive for interpolating the pas- 
sage is sadly to seek.^ Polydamas, in the distress of the 
Trojans under fire, advises retreat and a council of war. He 
fears that Achilles may come out on the confused army.' 
Hector rushes to the left to collect his chiefs, and finds all 

• See chapter on * Homer and Archax)logy. ' 

- Mr. Leaf susj^cts Athenian patriotic fraud (xiii. 6S5 twle^ and 
Companion y p. 237). 

» The Trojans, according to Mr. Leaf (737), have only *coine into 
the neighbourhood of the wall.' So, where is the difficulty about the 
chariots? According to Mr. Monro, they have * passed over the wall.' 


wounded but Paris, who alone sustains the fight. Hector 
addresses Paris, * with words of shame,' which are quite in- 
appropriate. Paris answers with dignity ; the pair rally their 
forces, attack the position of the Ai antes, and Mr. Leaf 
admits that, to the end of the book, *// is impossible not 
to believe ' that wc have part of the original attack on the 
ships. In his Cotnpanio7i^ however (p. 240), he withdraws 
this opinion, so rapidly does the impossible become possible 
to the Higher Criticism. 

On the whole, considering the confused character of 
such an encounter, where a fortified position is assailed in 
more than one place by ill-disciplined forces, and where 
gods take a hand, book xiii. seems consecutive enough. 
The only really suspicious part wc have remarked upon, 
and, if it be an interpolation, we fail to detect the motive 
of the interpolator. One general objection has been 
urged. The poet describes many ghastly circumstances of 
war : a spear rises and falls with the last beats of a wounded 
man's heart ; a hero's bloody eyes are dashed out at his 
feet, and the fallen are bitterly taunted. *This is not at all 
Greek,' as modern critics, ignorant of Greek, would say. 
However, it is not very un-Homeric, though, here, wc have 
more of it than usual. ^ 

The thirteenth book ends with a spirited rally of the 
Greeks, under Aias ; they * abide the onslaught, and the 
cry of the two hosts goes up to Zeus.' The Battle of the 
Wall takes a long time in the reading, because events 
which occurred simultaneously have to be described in 
sequence. These events arc, the dismounting of the 

* There is a diflficuliy in line 764, Hector finds that some Trojans 
arc lying in death among the sterns of the ships, * but some were 
within the wall wounded.' Mr. Leaf says the wall is that of Troy. 
Compare line 538, where a wounded man is carried to the city. The 
use of * wall ' here is confusing. 


Trojans, their formation into five attacking bodies, the 
charge on the wall— in which Sarpedon is partly, and 
Hector wholly, successful— the bursting of a gate or gates, 
the entrance partly by the gateways, partly over the wall, 
the rallies under Poseidon, stimulating Idomeneus and 
Aias, the wounding of Hector, the flight back across the 
ditch, the restoration of Hector by Apollo, the rally and 
advance of the Trojans, the retreat of the Achaeans, terri- 
fied by Apollo, the throwing down of the wall by Apollo, 
the onrush of Troy, the fight about the ship-stems, and the 
firing of a ship by Hector. The sequence, the speeches, the 
similes, the single combats, the doings of the gods, make 
all this long in the telling ; in fact, the occurrences may 
have occupied no great space of time. There is a storming 
of the fort, the place is not held, it is retaken : that is the 
whole stor)-. There are difficulties in language, as xii. 23, 
where the heroes are styled * men half divine.' This is in 
the account of the destruction of the wall by Poseidon, 
after the siege. The term does not occur elsewhere, and 
the passage does look like a late addition made to explain 
the absence of traces of the wall. We have parallels in the • 
Icelandic sagas. Line xii. 1 76, with what follows, the poet 
introducing himself, was suspected in antiquity. But com- 
pare ii. 484, 761, and Odyssey, i. i. In all these places the 
minstrel makes a personal appeal to the Muses for aid. If 
Odyssey i. i is spurious, what is genuine? 


The fourteenth book of the Iliad has been regarded as 
a collection of patches, unskilfully joined by short passages 
of transition. The thirteenth book ends, * And the clamour 
of the two hosts went up through the higher air to the 
splendour of Zeus.' The fourteenth book begins, * Yet the 


cry of battle escaped not Nestor, albeit at his wine,' which 
he is drinking with the leech, Machaon (xi. 642), himself 
engaged in attendance on Eurypylus, to inquire for whom 
Achilles had sent Patroclus. The clamour is that of the 
hosts as Hector leads the Trojans against the Greeks, who 
have rallied under the Aiantes. But when Nestor goes 
out he sees * a deed of shame, the Acfueans fleeing in routy 
and the Trojans driving them, and the wall overthrown.' 
This certainly does not correspond to the situation at the end 
of book xiii., if the cry heard by Nestor is that very cry men- 
tioned at the end of book xiii. Or is it the cry mentioned in 
xiii. 41 ? ^ However, the main thing for Nestor, at his wine, 
is that the wall is down. He sets out for the distant hut 
of the wounded Agamemnon, whom he finds in despair. 
Agamemnon suggests flight, and is rebuked in a famous 
passage (xiv. 82) by Odysseus. * Thou shouldst lead some 
other inglorious army, not be king over us, to whom Zeus 
hath given it, from youth even to age, to be winding the 
skein of grievous wars till every man of us perish.' Diomede, 
after some remarks on his father, suggests that he, Odysseus, 
and Agamemnon, all of them wounded, should go down 
and encourage the host. This they do, and Poseidon 
meets them in the guise of * an aged man ' unnamed. In 
the Iliad, though not always in the Odyssey, disguised 
gods put on the semblance of some known person. 
Zenodotus added a line out of his own head to the effect 
that the old man was Phoenix, the friend of Achilles. 
Any ancient interpolator might have done as much, but 
nobody did it (xiv. 136). Poseidon then utters a divine 
shout, not much in accordance with his disguise, but rather 
reminding us of the conspirators' song in the Rovers, Now 
(153) Hera bethinks herself of beguiling Zeus to love and 
sleep, that he may not observe Poseidon. It has been 

' Stc CoiHpanioUy p. 243, 244. 


suggested that this famous passage (154-358) should come 
before the first arrival of Poseidon. On the other hand, she 
may have been encouraged by the success of Poseidon. 
* The thwarting of the will of Zeus (which is the ground 
idea) arises in an unexpected quarter/ ^ 

Critics have differed much in their theories of in- 
terpolation here. After the craft of Hera is accomplished, 
and 2Seus has slept, Poseidon (370-388) bids the Achaeans 
change their armour, the best men taking the best weapons. 
This is very odd advice in the midst of war, though the 
heroes armed and disarmed with amazing celerity, so Lach- 
mann, Kayser, Benicken, and others excise the lines 
(370-388), Koch removes most of them, Bemhardy cuts 
out all between 361-401, and there are other attempts at im- 

' Monro, introduction to l^ook xiv. Mr. Leafs theory is that all 
this account of the wiles of Hera is * meant as an alternative to the 
arisUia of Idomeneus (in book xiii. ) after the wall had been introduced 
by the author of the twelfth book.' In the original recitations, either 
the fight of Idomeneus or the wiles of Hera would be given, not 
both. A * diaskeuast ' (corrupter or interpolator) * amalgamated the 
two alternative pieces, kept them both, and added jmutunt, ' We are, 
as usual, puzzled to know how all this was done, and when, and how 
the mixture won general acceptance. We do not know whether all this 
manufacture was performed before or after the use of written texts. 
Let us suppose that the original poet, whether he used a written copy 
or not, recited till his poems got a strong hold on Greek audiences. 
After his death, or in his absence, did other rhapsodists recite his poem, 
with such variations and alternative lays as they pleased ? Did one ver- 
sion win general acceptance, and, if so, how did the diaskeuast manage 
to foist his patchwork on the public, so that it became canonical, as it 
were, and remain unsuspected even by the sceptical critics of Alex- 
andria ? For all this, some such committee of revision as Wolf fancietl, 
was necessary*. The Pisistratean commission of recension and the text 
they made are the key-stone of Wolfs theory'. It is now almost univer- 
sally abandoned, and we are left wholly at a loss as to how poems, 
widely known in ancient Greece, and much revered, were patched and 
altered, and how the various States came to accept the patchwork as 
authentic. Mr. Leaf's theory of a * School * we have already criticised. 


provement. The passage is a puzzle, but it is as puzzling 
to conjecture why any interpolator inserted it. If he 
merely wished to keep Poseidon before the audience, he 
need not have made the god give such extraordinary 
advice. * The whole passage is a clumsy piece of work,' 
as Mr. Leaf says, whoever composed it, or, at all events, it 
seems clumsy to modern readers. Aristarchus understood 
it no better than we do, and set his critical mark against it. 
The dread sword of Poseidon (385) is perplexing, too, 
like the mysterious weapon often spoken of in Irish epic 
tradition. But all this may have been intelligible to an 
Homeric audience. That a passage is obscure to us, or to 
the Alexandrine critics, by no means proves that it is 
spurious. There must have been a time when it was in- 
telligible enough. The book ends with a fight between 
Aias and Hector, deferred since the close of book xiii. 
Here, again, is a difficulty. Aias knocks Hector senseless 
with a large stone ; Hector is removed to the banks of 
Xanthus, and book xv. opens on the Trojans in full flight 
across the palisade. Hera and Poseidon have, in fact, 
thwarted for the moment the will of Zeus, who is still asleep 
on Ida, under the cloud of gold. The poet cannot bear to 
* let the Trojan dogs have the best of it.' He constantly 
rallies his dear Greeks, and so defers the issue. It may be 
that this frank boyish spirit is the cause of various passages 
which delay, or defy, the modern critics, whether in Alex- 
andria or Bonn or Berlin. If ever the Trojans do score a 
success, it must be by the aid of Zeus or Apollo, with all 
the consequent mythical confusions. 

As to the difficulties about the wall, Mr. Leaf partly 
explains them.* *The river appears and disappears just as 
suits the poet at the moment. This is only one instance of 
the freedom with which the details of topography are 

' Companion f p. 252. 



treated in the Iliad.' Why should the poet of the Iliad be 
more particular about the great wall than about the much 
more permanent river ? 

The fifteenth book has given commentators an enormous 
amount of trouble. Perhaps the truth is that they consider 
too curiously. If Homer had been describing the fights in 
a military examination paper he might have been more 
clear in his statements. But he has before his eyes the 
flux and reflux of battle, a stream of chariots and men pouring 
back and forth from the wall and fosse, between and among 
the ships, and even rearwards to the huts. Here a rank keeps 
its ground ; there is a knot of men attacked on all sides ; 
here some send their spears from the openings between the 
ships ; warriors leap into and out of chariots and barques ; 
there is all the confusion of a mellay, intermingled with the 
coming and going of gods, the crash of thunder — an 
ambiguous omen — and the panic that streams from the 
shaken aegis. Homer shows us all this : the war shifts and 
shines before us, and this ought to suffice. Doubtless it 
did suffice his audience, as it satisfies any reader, except 
those who pry with microscopes into the exact sense of iso- 
lated expressions, and detect discrepancies, which suggest 
interpolation. * We must not expect a degree of accuracy 
which would be without poetical value ' (Monro). There 
may be, there probably are, some interpolated lines, but the 
whole battle-piece, read in a proper spirit, is its own justi- 
fication. For the Iliad is literature, ancient and warlike ; 
it is not a chapter of scientific military history. 

In the opening of the fifteenth book Zeus awakes in the 
arms of Hera to see Hector wounded (thanks to Poseidon and 
Hera), and the Trojans driven in rout from the wall. Zeus 
rebukes Hera and announces his decision. Let Iris bid 
Apollo help Troy, till the Achceans flee and fall among the 
ships (63). From 63 to 77 Mr. Leaf brackets the lines as 


spurious. The lines continue the speech of 2^us. He says 
that the Achaeans shall fall among the ships of Achilles, 
who shall rouse Patroclus (averrt^tru), Patroclus shall slay 
Sarpedon, Hector Patroclus, and Achilles shall slay Hector. 
* From that hour will I cause a new pursuit from the ships ' 
till Troy falls. Till that hour Zeus will not cease from anger, 
nor suffer gods to interfere, * before I accomplish that desire 
of the son of Peleus.' The Alexandrines placed the critical 
sign of falsity against all this passage. Mr. Monro, as well 
as Mr. Leaf, marks it spurious ; so do almost all the 
modern Germans. * However regretfully, we must acknow- 
ledge that the lines do look like an interpolation, though 
for what purpose, and why the interpolator did not take the 
trouble to get up his facts, it is not easy to conjecture. Iris 
bids Poseidon leave the war, where the Achaeans * miss 
him sorely,' and Apollo, by command of Zeus, encourages 
the reviving Hector. The description of his return to fight 
is a verbal and uncalled for repetition (263-268) of the 
simile about Paris, in book vi., and is probably inserted by 
some error. The Greeks are alarmed by Hector's return, 
and Thoas bids them fall back on the ships, the chiefs 
covering the retreat. Commentators object that the Greeks 
needed all their forces, but the retreat covered by * all the 
best in the host ' seems natural enough. It is later said 
that the Achaeans abode the attack ao\A«€c (312), *in close 
ranks,' but there is no wild inconsistency in that, nor (319) 
in 7ri7rr£ ci Xaof, * the folk fell.' The foes are not at close 
quarters. The best warriors, covering the retreat, are in 
close array ; the * folk ' fall when the arrows reach them, but 
they are so far off that many spears are thrown, and only 
reach * half the distance ' (316). * The contradiction, perhaps, 
would disappear if we knew how an army in Homeric times 
would eflcct its retreat l)chind fortifications.' ^ It is, no doubt, 

' Hcnlzc leaves in 56-63, 72-77. * Monro. 


the rapidly retreating multitude, galled by arrows and by the 
better thrown spears, that are compared to a herd of kine in 
confusion (323).* The close fight (between the champions 
covering the retreat and the Trojans) breaks up, the Achaeans 
are driven within the wall, and have no time to man it, 
for Apollo dashes the banks into the fosse, fills it up, and 
the Trojans stream in, horse and man. Nestor prays ; 
Zeus thunders, the Trojans accept the omen, and there is 
fighting from ship-board and from chariots. The great 
jointed spears are used to repel the attack. 

The story now goes (xv. 390) to Patroclus, who has long 
been tending the wounded Eurypylus in his hut. He sees 
the Trojans * rushing over the wall ' (395) and goes off to rouse 
Achilles (404). No doubt, it is odd that the first successes 
at the wall did not attract the attention of Patroclus, but he 
may have been then absorbed in his surgery ; now he is 
merely conversing with Eur)'pylus. It is also objected that, 
in 387, the Achaeans are on the ships ; in 408 the Trojans 
cannot break their phalanxes and pour in among ships and 
huts. Mr. Monro remarks that it does not follow that all 
the defenders had mounted the ships. We may imagine 
that there were all sorts of combats going on.'-^ On the 
whole, the divers descriptions of the fighting seem as 
consistent as we have any right to expect. The bowstring 
of Teucer is broken, there is a rally of men, *a ring of 
bronze ' about the ships. Hector assails it ; Aias leaps from 
deck to deck with his long spear ; Zeus waits for the blaze 
from a burning ship, the fulfilment of his promise to Thetis ; 

• Hentze and others do not accept this view, and think great 
doubt lies on the originality of the passage. They seem to consider 
too curiously, but there is nothing of essential value in the lines 
(Hentze, p. 103). 

' I" 393 ^r^^ 405^ occurs the words Ad7oiy and (ro^iy\^ (art). The 
latter is only here found in Homer ; the former only here and in Od)'sscy, 
i. 56. 


Hector seizes the barque of Protesilaus ; Aias drives oft 
those who come up with burning torches. So ends the 

About this book, it may be said, with almost perfect 
assurance, that it does contain apparent interpolations. 
Again, these are, in one or two cases, very awkward and 
senseless, unless they be rude attempts dX juncture. 

Once more, in some cases, the passages suspected for 
their matter display unusual forms of diction, and the 
coincidence strengthens the suspicion.* The lines which 
we must admit to be interpolated are not, in our view, very 
many or important. We have endeavoured to show that the 
general view of the fighting is less inconsistent than many 
commentators have thought. But the admission of any 
interpolation confesses the possibility that others may 
occur, and drives us back on the problem : how, when, or 
where were the undeniable interpolations made, and how 
did they secure acceptance in the many old copies w^hich the 
Alexandrian critics handled ? Perhaps no critic is so con- 
servative as to deny seriously that there are interj)olations 
in the Iliad. But it is not enough to admit this vaguely. 
We must make up our minds as to what is to be rejected, 
and how far the innumerable passages which have been 
attacked may be honestly defended. 

Our own position is that there are traces of dislocation 
in books xiii.-xv., and a trace of something omitted, while, 
perhaps from our ignorance of Homeric warfare, there are 
passages not clearly intelligible, and it is possible that 
attempts to remedy this state of things may have introduced 
other blemishes. By way of making all this clearer, we 
may restate briefly the sequence of events, after Hector, at 

' Friedllinder says that, by the new critical methods of Geist, 
Dimtzer, and others, there is hardly a word in Homer that could escape 
objection (Nutzhorn, p. 119). 


the end of book xii., leaped within the broken gate, while 

other Trojans climbed the wall, and the Greeks ' fled in fear 

among the hollow ships ' (xii. 471). 

Next (xiii. i -9) Zeus withdrew his eyes from the battle. 

This was Poseidon's opportunity : in a magnificent passage 

he speeds from the crest of Samothrace to ^^gae, thence 

drives to a cavern in the sea deeps, and thence, again, goes 

to the Achaean host. In manner this piece is closely akin 

to the later description of the sleep of Zeus and Hera. 

Poseidon, in guise of Calchas, rallied the Achfeans who 

were fleeing before Hector, within the wall. The two 

Aiantes recognised him as he left them, to hearten the 

other Greeks, despairing among the ships. They rallied, 

therefore, around the Aiantes, and there 

The stubborn spearmen still made good 
Their dark impenetrable wood ; 
Each stepping where his comrade stoo<l. 
The moment that he fell. 

On this group Hector sped, like a loosened rock leaping 
from a hill. Through the scattered ranks he smote and 
slew, but was checked by the spearmen round the Aiantes, 
and called up his men. They rally to him ; Deiphobus 
breaks the spear of Meriones, who goes to his hut for 
another. Here the elan leaves the fight ; the Trojans do 
not break through the square * in fashion like a tower,' nor 
are they wholly repulsed, for the victors on both sides fall 
to stripping the dead. 

Poseidon, in wrath for a scion of his line, again urges 
on the Greeks, and chiefly Idomeneus, who has been aiding 
a wounded comrade, and has disarmed. All this seems 
absurd to Northern men. When Gunnar and Giettir 
warred, they fought the battle through. But Homefs 
heroes constantly disarm in mid combat— constantly saunter 
out of the mellay. Wo must take them as we find them. 


Poseidon, disguised as Thoas, returns to the fight round the 
group of the Aiantes, Idomeneus arms, meets Meriones, 
who has now procured a spear. After a long dialogue, the 
pair decide not to aid the Aiantes, who can give Hector 
toil enough, but to go to the left wing. Here they fight 
by the very sterns of the ships. 

Meanwhile, Zeus is perhaps watching the battle, and 
Poseidon, in the likeness of a man, is heartening the 
Greeks (xiii. 345-360). To us it is absurd that Poseidon 
should thus deceive Zeus by a flimsy disguise ; but the 
gods are of very limited acuteness. The aristeia of 
Idomeneus, on the left, now engages the poet. Idomeneus 
slays Asius, whose charioteer also falls. Deiphobus urges 
-t-Eneas against the elderly Idomeneus, who retreats slowly. 
Menelaus and Antilochus now do most of the work, and on 
the left, practically, the Trojans have the worst of it. Hector 
does not know this, he is still in the centre, where he first 
broke in, and the Boeotians and lonians and Athenians 
and Locrians have rallied against him. The heavy fire of 
these light-armed archers and slingers, under cover of the 
ships, apparently, is of great service to the Aiantes, who are 
opposing Hector.* Indeed, the Trojans would have given 
way ; Polydamas, therefore, bids Hector * withdraw and 
call hither all the best of the warriors.' Hector springs 
from his chariot, whereas it is unlikely that his charioteer 
can have rejoined him ; but the best MS. omits the line 
(749). Hector rallies whom he can to the central battle ; 
Paris explains to him that many are dead or wounded. 
With all he can collect. Hector tries to break down the 
Aiantes, and the cry of both hosts in the renewed struggle 
goes up to Zeus. 

Nestor hears the cry, or a cry, and sees, not a sturdy 

' For the cover they shoot from, see xiii. 721. 

■J- *-v 


clash of equal foes, but 'the Achssans fleeing and the 
Trojans driving them, and the wall overthrown.' 

Here we, for our part, first detect confusion. Is the 
story going straight on, or has the tale turned back to the 
end of book xii., where Hector first leaj)ed through the 
gate? In any case, Nestor goes to the wounded chiefe, 
Diomede, Agamemnon, and Odysseus. After a parley, by 
Diomede's advice, they go behind the fight, to encourage 
the Greeks. Here Poseidon appears again as an aged man 
(xiv. 1 50), shouting terribly, to hearten his friends the Greeks, 
and here begins Hera's design to lull Zeus in love and 
slumber (xiv. 153-351), while Sleep goes to bid Poseidon 
seize his opportunity. Now, if there is anything in internal 
evidence and the testimony of style, the poet who told in 
xiii. of Poseidon's seafaring tells here of Hera's wooing. 
There is an immortal splendour in his descriptions ; he 
seems to revel in such a change after a mere record of grey- 
goose shafts and handy strokes. But why is the device of 
Hera needed ? Poseidon, in xiii., worked his will unhindered 
of Zeus, who, indeed, at first was watching the Scythians. 
But (xiii. 345) Zeus appears to have turned his attention 
again to the war, and Poseidon (xiii. 356) had to work * by 
stealth.' One might conjecture that he has returned to the 
sea (xiii. 352), and stolen forth * secretly' again-, though 
Mr. Leaf regards the statement as * a mere recapitulation.' ^ 
If it be not a recapitulation, but an indication that, when 
Zeus again took an interest in the war, Poseidon retreated, but 
returned * secretly,' then, indeed, we require the wile of 
Hera that Zeus may sleep and Poseidon may regain his 
freedom of action. Undeniably the passage is far from the 
usual clearness of the epic. Nitzsch has suggested that the 
action of this book xiv. is not subsequent to but parallel 

' Leaf, note, xiii. 351. 

MR. leaf's reconstruction 1 7/ 

with that of book xiii. This certainly could be discovered 
by no listener, and by no ordinary reader. 

Mr. I^af suggests that the poem originally ran thus 
(xiii. I- 1 25) : — Zeus is not watching ; Poseidon comes and 
rouses the Greeks (xiv. 1-362). Nestor heard the cry raised 
when the wall fell, and as Poseidon was encouraging the 
Achaeans; he went to the wounded heroes; Poseidon, as 
* the aged man,' shouted; and Hera beguiled Zeus. Then 
came xiii. 795-837, the rush of the rallied Trojans, under 
Hector, against the Aiantes ; then xiv. 402-522, Hector 
assails Aias, is knocked down by a stone, and Aias routs the 
Trojans, xv. 1-366. Zeus wakens, restores Hector to 
strength, and the Achaeans are driven once more through 
the fosse, while Hector cries * Leave the spoils, and burn the 
ships.' All this original structure was broken up by intro- 
ducing the aristeia of Idomeneus, to please the Cretans. 
They must have been easily pleased, for Idomeneus talks 
much, does little, and is so elderly that he can hardly run 
away when his mind urges him to do so.' If Mr. Leaf is 
right, the passage (xiii. 345-354) which looks rather as if 
Zeus had really restored his attention to the war, must be 
an interpolation, or a passage which has gone astray. It is 
impossible for any honest unionist, perhaps, to deny that 
there has been a confusion made somewhere. But this is 
so manifest that we are all the more inclined to doubt the 
theories of diaskeuasts and recensors. If they existed 
at all (and the diaskeuast is the deus ex machina of com- 
mentators), why did they not put this passage straight? 
It was their very business to free these beautiful contrasted 
descriptions of love and fighting from the difficulties which 
tend to make them incoherent.'^ 

' Companion^ p. 244. 

- A defence of the delay of Hera is offered by Nulzhorn, Enisieh' 



When Hera's purpose is accomplished and reported to 
Poseidon by Sleep (xiv. 361), he again encourages the 
Greeks. The obscurities in his advice have been dwelt on ; 
* it is a clumsy piece of work,' and we, at least, can see no 
reason for its existence, original or interpolated. We need 
not recapitulate the fighting in xv. ( i -366), when Hector 
has been restored to force, and w^hen Apollo has over- 
thrown the wall. It is plain (xv. 385) that there was space 
for charioteering within the wall, and so vanish the difficul- 
ties about the chariots. In the earlier fighting, they came 
in by the gates; here, over the ruined wall. In xv. 668-673, 
a * wondrous mist ' is suddenly removed by Athene, though 
we never hear of its arrival. The ancients noticed this 
blot ; there must be a laaina somewhere, and the 
diaskeuasts, as usual, were idle just when their assistance 
was needed. The book closes with Hector carrying fire 
against the ships. 

On the whole, then, in books xiii. xv., we are obliged to 
recognise what we may call dislocation. The poem can 
scarcely have been composed exactly as it stands, and the 
persons who are supposed to have ' redacted ' it failed to do 
so successfully. But we do not recognise a large late addition 
to the original poem. The new elements, Poseidon and 
Hera, supply * gradation' or thickening of the plot, which 
is essential to dramatic effect.^ The absence of Achilles is 
recognised (xiv. 50 and 366). * These references make us 
feel that he is uppermost in the minds of the Greeks.' 


In the beginning of the sixteenth book it is generally 
admitted, even by the most sceptical, that we re-enter the 

uftgs7feisc, p. 160. She has been frightened by Zeus in book viii., 
and dare not stir, till she is encouraged by the success of Poseidon. 
» Monro. 


Stream of the original M^xr. Patroclus, weeping, asks the 
implacable Achilles, as Nestor had suggested in book xi., to 
let him lead the Myrmidons into the war, like Harry Blount 
charging at Flodden, and to wear Achilles's armour. Achilles 
consents. We have already shown that this passage, and 
the remarks about the maiden and the gifts (promised by 
Athene in book i.), are not inconsistent with Achilles's 
refusal in book ix. In the present passage, Patroclus says : 

* Pitiless thou art. The knight Peleus was not, then, thy 
father, nor Thetis thy mother, but the grey sea bare thee, 
and the sheer clifTs, so ruthless is thy spirit.' This pitiless- 
ness may well refer to the refusal of the Embassy. 

Mr. Monro asks, * Why docs Achilles allow Patroclus 
to aid the Greeks, but will not aid them himself? ' A man, 
he says, cannot always be angry ; ' though I deemed that I 
would not cease from my wrath until to my own ships came 
the war-cry and the battle' (62). Mr. Leaf hints that this 
phrase suggested the similar vow of Achilles in ix. 650. 

* I will not take thought of war till Hector come to the 
Myrmidon's huts and ships, but about mine hut and black 
ship, I ween, Hector, though he be very eager for battle, 
will be refrained.' Anything may be argued in this manner. 
A late book refers decidedly to an early book, therefore the 
early book is really late, and was suggested by the late book, 
which is really early. Thus, if there are no cross references, 
the books arc unconnected ; and, if there are cross refer- 
ences, they are only by an interpolator, and prove the case 
for disintegration. 

Achilles, then, will keep the letter, though not the spirit 
of his vow in book ix. ; that is his motive for letting 
Patroclus fight. Moreover, his credit will be increased when 
it is seen that even his companion in arms can save the 
Greeks. * That Hector, too, may know whether my squire 
hath skill to war even alone ' (xvi. 243). Again, Mr. Monro 

N 2 



asks, * What is the necessity or ground for the determination 
of Zeus that Patroclus shall be slain ? ' That, we reply, is 
the Nemesis of the haughtiness of Achilles in book ix. It 
was suggested at the moment when Patroclus left the hut, 
to inquire for Machaon. *This to him was the beginning 
of evil ' (xi. 604). Mr. Monro says that * the art of Homer 
conceals the want of motive,' but really the motive is 
manifest enough. In xi. 796, Nestor had suggested that, 
if Achilles will not fight, he might send Patroclus in his 
place. Again, the death of Patroclus has an additional 
motive, if one is needed, in his rejection of the warning of 
Achilles, not to go too near Troy (xvi. 94), lest Apollo step 
in and slay him. 

The connection with the ninth book having already 
been defended, we may examine the other ' interpolations ' 
in book xvi. The stor)- is that Patroclus wears the armour 
of Achilles, that he is at first successful, that he kills 
Sarpedon, but is killed by Apollo aiding Hector, who, to 
our ideas, plays a most unworthy and unchivalrous part. 
Mr. Leaf very ingeniously conjectures that the description 
of the new shield of Achilles in book xviii. is an interpola- 
tion, and that the interpolator devised and added the 
wearing of Achilles's armour by Patroclus, to make room for 
that famous passage. He also thinks that Sarpedon was 
not in the original poem, but he, and his death scene in 
this book, 'may have been added by the original hand.' 
We have already said that additions by the original hand 
will suffice us, as original enough, though we doubt the 
possibility of discerning between the first and second 

As to the wearing of the armour of Achilles by Patroclus, 
it is a point of considerable interest. Here we have a motive, 
and an approximate date for the so-called additions. The 
supposed interpolator cannot be late, because, as all recent 


archaeological evidence shows, the shield of Achilles (to 
introduce which the interpolations about change and loss of 
armour were, ex hypothesis made) is in accordance with the 
art of the Homeric age. Mr. Leaf believes that inlaid 
metals were used, as in the bronze daggers found at Mycenae.^ 
Now, these very ancient daggers are, in the style of their inlaid 
pictures of the chase, what we may call pre-Phcenician. 
We have no examples of Phoenician work in this inlaid 
manner ; there are Egyptian examples of it, about 1 600 b.c.^ 
Nor are the designs on the bronze daggers of Mycenae at all 
Phoenician \\\ style : the landscape of papyrus swamps with 
cats hunting wild-fowl is Egyptian ; not so the style of the 
figures introduced. The technique of the shield in book 
xviii., if it really corresponds to the Mycenaean daggers, is 
thus pre-Pha^nician : such work is as old as the seven- 
teenth century b.c. The scheme of ornament in bands, 
on the other hand, resembles later and Phoenician work on 
bowls.^ Thus a difficult question arises. Is the poet 
describing work not Phoenician, and earlier than Phoenician 
influence in art, or is he * combining his information ' ? Is the 
work of the Egypto-Mycenaean inlaid style, with Phoenician 
arrangement ? 

In any case, such art as that of which an idealised 
account is given in the Shield is extremely ancient, if it be 
as old as the inlaid bronze daggers of Mycenae. But now 
we must remember that on the theory of interpolation there 
already existed a text, or a careful oral version, into which 
passages of two lines in length could be neatly dovetailed, 
in several remote books, so as to admit of, and lead up to, 
the long interpolation of the shield. If the text was merely 

' They arc excel lent ly copied in colours and gold in Bulletin de 
Corrdspondance Hcllcniquc^ 1886, pt. ii. 

- See below, on * Homer and Archceolog}-. ' 

^ See Leaf, ///W, note on xviii. 478, and Companion^ p. 310. 


* in oral transmission,' as Mr. Monro thinks,* we find it 
quite impossible to conceive how reciters, in many distant 
places, were induced to accept these little dovetailings. The 
addition, if addition it be, * belongs to the same period/ 
If there were written texts, it is not much more easy to 
understand how one poet prevailed on Greece to welcome 
his private additions and judicious corruptions of familiar 
passages. It is the easiest thing in the world to go cutting 
out what does not suit our systems, but the hardest to 
explain how the pieces which we cut out were sewn in, and 
were accepted. For all this, in the case of the Shield and the 
dovetailings which give it a raison d^etre, must, ex hypothesis 
be ver)' ancient indeed, in the full time of Heroic art and 
manners. That so many poets of the highest class, and using 

* the grand style/ should have existed, and have preferred 
interpolating an old work to making original lays, is, of 
course, a literarj- difficulty, felt by critics like Goethe and 
Mr. Matthew Arnold. In the case of the French chansons 
de gesfe, a close analogy, the late continuators are a very 
feeble folk, and the grand style, even as found in the Song 
of Roland^ is far from them. Greece was more fortunate 
in pMDssessing many great self-denying poets, satisfied with 
compiling sequels. Content to do good work by stealth 
and blushing to find it fame, they, like Poseidon, disguised 
their genius under the shape of the TruXatoc ^^c, 'the Old 
Man,* and were pleased, by artful dovetailing, to escape 
renown, and be blended in glor}' with the author of the 
original M^iic. But all this happened before the age of 
Hesiod, who distinctly tells us that * potter is jealous with 
potter, and poet with poet.' A poet of this temper would 
not hide his light under a diaskenc. We are not dealing, 
let it be remembered, with mere ballad-mongers, whose 
names are indifferent to a popular audience. We are to 

' Introduction to lxK)k xviii. 


think of great poets in an age when there was probably 
poetical rivalry, when Thamyris sang against the Muses J 

They arc poets of this early age, who, on Bergk's and 
Mr. Leaf's theory of the arms of Achilles, were content to 
sink their individuaUty in that' of a predecessor, and to 
conceal their merits by ingeniously thrusting in hncs here 
and there, up and down, about the Mrjuc. The nature of 
men, and especially of poets, not to mention the difficulties 
of the operation and of securing acceptance for the addi- 
tions, really makes the theory very hazardous. 

We are to believe, however, that a later poet composed 
the brilliant description of the Shield of Achilles. Far from 
being proud of the achievement, his first care was to 
conceal his merit, and to palm it off as part of the work of 
another. He, therefore, had to lead up to it, by foisting 
verses containing motives for the change of arms into earlier 
books. First he took the canto which is now book xi., and 
made Nestor, in that book, advise Patroclus to borrow the 
armour of Achilles (xi. 798).^ 

The interpolator has next to introduce Patroclus^s 
request for the arms, and the grant of them by Achilles 
(xvi. 40-64). Lines 130-144 must next go, for they describe 
Patroclus arming in Achilles's gear. The description of the 
lance of Peleus, which Patroclus does not take, as it is too 
heavy, was rejected by Zenodotus, because it recurs in xvii. 
Aristarchus preferred it in this place, but Mr. Leaf and Bergk 
agree with Zenodotus. The opinion of Aristarchus is usually 
admired f but why should not Homer indulge in textual 

' ii' 595- This is from the Catalogue, and, whatever may be 
thought of the age of the Catalogue, it at least illustrates heroic manners. 
Mr. Leaf believes that * it was composed in Achivan times,* on the 
mainland of Greece, and was thus earlier than the Dorian Conquest. 

- Fick thinks that they are an interpolation here, Ix rrowed from 
Patroclus's request for the arms in xvi. 36-49. 

- < 


repetition, a note of all early poetry, from ballad to epic ? 
Again, when Sarpedon doubts who it is that leads the 
Myrmidons (xvi. 423-4), we are not to suppose that Patro- 
clus is taken for Achilles. But, if he were not, what could 
there be any doubt about ? He had the well-known horses 
of Achilles, two immortal and one mortal ; but Bergk cuts 
them out also, * because there was no room for them ' ! * 
Again, xvi. 796-800, where we are told that not before had 
Achilles's arms been stained with dust, is a device of the 
author of the Shield.^ 

Not including Sarpcdon's doubt as to who wears the 
armour (xvi. 423-4), there are four or five passages in xvi. 
which have to go out, on Bergk^s theory. Lines 41-43 
disappear, because they repeat (as we should expect from 
Homeric usage) the words of Nestor in xi. 799 803. Again, 
141-144 vanish, that we may agree with Zenodotus, rather 
than Aristarchus, about their recurrence in xvii. 388-391. 
It is said that the change of armour produces little effect, 
though ' the Trojans wavered, deeming that Peleus's son had 
cast away his wrath ' (xvi. 282), and though Sarpedon did 
not know whom he was fighting with. The appearance of 
the Myrmidons, and of the deathless horses, might cause a 
momentary confusion, but there can be no question that 
the doubt which Sarpedon felt and solved was chiefly 
produced by the armour. 

Let us follow the * interpolator ' (whose object is to de- 
scribe the arms, and then fit them in) into the later books. 
In the seventeenth book Apollo warns Hector not to pursue 


' Griech. Litteraturgesch. \. p. 617. 

' Here, perhaps, is an allusion to the belief that, when Hector wore 
Achilles's amis, taken from Patroclus, he was doomed, as they were 
only to be worn by a man of divine birth. Vet Aias and Odysseus 
contended for Achilles's new mail, and Odysseus got it without any 
nemesis. Od. xi. 546. 


the horses of Achilles, * hard to be driven by mortal man.' 
Why should Patroclus have taken such dangerous beasts, 
which only Bergk grudges him, except to carry out the 
illusion aiused by the armour of Achilles ? Hector ap- 
proaches Patroclus, Menelaus withdrawing in fear, and 
sends the armour into Troy. He changes his mind, how- 
ever, when urged into battle over Patroclus, by Glaucus, 
and, running after his messengers, dresses himself in the 
harness of Achilles (xvii. 188-197). According to the 
scholiast, his change of mind was caused by his desire for 
the arms. He could not part from them. This movement 
seems odd — as it is — to Mr. Leaf, who finds here * disastrous 
confusion.* But, strange as it is, it greatly influences the 
story. Zeus remarks (xvii. 201) that now Hector is doomed 
and never will return to Andromache, but grants him * great 
strength ' for the moment. If this avails him little, it is 
simply because Homer cannot bear to let the Trojans have 
much the best of the fight. Hector now (xvii. 214) seems 
to all of these allies like Achilles. Mr. Leaf would have 
expected * a more marked effect ' — what kind of effect we 
know not. Hector could not have scared them as an ap- 
parition of Achilles, for he had told them what he meant 
to do (xvii. 183-187). 

The fight is keen over dead Patroclus. The divine 
horses weep. Zeus pities them, and pities men, and de- 
clares that Hector, as he has the arms of Achilles, shall not 
have the horses also (xvii. 450). Alcimedon mentions the 
fact about the arms to Automedon, the charioteer (xvii. 472). 
but does not say they are Achilles's. An allusion in xvii. 7 1 1 
Mr. Leaf thinks it * arbitrary to excise.' Nevertheless, * it 
will be necessary to reject it.' ^ As the fight reels this 
way and that, Menelaus sends Antilochus to tell Achilles 

* Companion, p. 296. Compare ///W, vol. ii. p. 180, where the 
rejection is described as ' arbitrary.* 


that Patroclus is slain, and that Hector wears his armour 
(xvii. 693). Antilochus strips off his own harness (they did 
this very rapidly), and runs with the ill news. Menelaus 
tells the Aiantes about his message, but adds that Achilles 
(unlike Pick's Agamemnon in book ii.) cannot fight un- 
armed (xvii. 711). This is the line which it is at once 
* necessary ' and * arbitrary ' to cut out. The Greeks then 
retreat with the body of Patroclus, and the book ends. 

It is plain that the interpolator has made good use of 
his opportunity. The wearing of Achilles's armour (in- 
vented by the interpolator) is positively the motive for the 
death of Hector, if the armour is divine and deadly, an idea 
unknown to the Odyssey.* 

In the eighteenth book the loss of the armour leads up 
to perhaps the most wonderful passage in Homer— the 
panic caused by the shout of the unarmed Achilles. Go 
into the war without harness he may not, but clear as a 
clarion's cry rang the voice of --Eacides. Thrice he shouted, 
and thrice the Trojans were confounded. This passage 
by itself would justify the change of armour ; but the 
change, and loss of the arms, now lead direct to the making 
of the shield by Hephaestus. 

Thus, to rob the original poet of the motive for Hector's 
death, and of the cry of Achilles, and of that peculiarly 
Homeric work, the shield, it is necessary to make arbitrary 
excisions in earlier books and later, to seek for * knots in a 
reed,' discrepancies where there arc none, and to imagine 
a minstrel, as great as the greatest, who yet is so modest as 
to hide his work in another's, by aid of crafty interpolations 

* In one of the Cyclic poems, Neoptolemus, on arriving at Troy, 
receives his father's amiour from Odysseus. This is mentione<l in 
Procluh's analysis of TA^r Little IliaJy Kinkel, Epic. Cnrc. FratpN.y 

P- 37- 

- CompanioUy pp. 28S-9. 


introduced (how we are never told) at a very early period — 
the period of various coloured inlaid gold on bronze. To 
many readers, probably, all this will seem wasted ingenuity. 

* Terrible learning ! ' they will exclaim, with Mr. Matthew 
Arnold, and will thank the original poet for his management 
of his most admirable scenes. 

In an attempt to vindicate for the original poet the 
greater part of the Iliad, perhaps the two most important 
pomts are the authenticity of book ix. and of the passages 
about the armour of Achilles. As to book ix., the question 
is really one of literary taste. Are we to believe in the 
truly inexorable hero who refuses the prayers, or are we to 
believe in two separate heroes— the Achilles of the original 

* Wrath' who received and refused no embassy, and the 
Achilles of the second poet who did refuse one ? Our answer 
greatly depends on our sense of what the heroic temper 
was, and this sense will guide our estimate of the meaning 
of the disputed passages. 

In regard to the Arms and the hypothesis that they 
are an addition made late in the third stratum of interpola- 
tion and change, we deal with something more tangible. We 
ask whether a composition so clearly marked, as Mr. Leaf 
thinks, by archaeological evidence of great antiquity could, 
in a remote age, be first composed and then made plausible 
as a piece of the original work by a number of minute 
interpolations in the body of the poem ? It is only fair to 
review and restate Mr. Leaf's arguments as given again in 
his Companion to the Iliad (p. 269). Mr. Leaf maintains 
that * if it was really the intention that Patroclus should be 
taken for Achilles, the result is a singular failure.' The 
only allusion to a disguise is Sarpedon's doubt (xvi. 423, 
424) as to who the hero may be. We may add that, in 
xvi. 543, Glaucus recognises Patroclus after the slaying of 
Sarpedon. The general effect, however, has been pro- 


duced by the charge of the M5rrmidons, led by a warrior in 
Achilles's arms, driving the deathless horses of Achilles. 
There is here no * singular failure,' and as the new poet 
composed xvii. 201, wherein Zeus asserts that Hector must 
die, the whole plot is hastened and foreshadowed by the 

* singular failure.* There has been * a brief breathing time 
in battle' (xvi. 40 43), which is all that Patroclus asked for. 
To obtain it is not to fail. Not to speak of the advice of 
Nestor in the eleventh book, the change of armour is re- 
ferred to in xvi. 40-43, 64, 134, 140-144, 796, 800, and, of 
course, later on in the speech of Zeus, xvii. 201, and else- 
where in xvii. But all this passage about Hector donning 
the arms of Achilles, lately worn by Patroclus, Mr. Leaf 

* must reject.* Why ? * It is very strange that after 
Hector's proud words to Glaucus, whom he has bidden to 
stand at his side and see him fight, he should without more 
ado leave the field to change his armour.* We have fre- 
quently noted the speed with which heroes in battle, like 
Menelaus, Idomeneus, and Antilochus, arm and disarm. 
It seems curious to us ; we remember Dalgetty*s difficulty 
in unbuckling his armour after dinner. It appears to us a 
dilatory manoeuvre, but it is not isolated here, it occurs again 
and again, and implies only the briefest delay. Mr. Leaf 
thinks Hector's change of arms worthy of * a passing remark * 
from the Greeks. So we might all think ; but nobody does 
remark on these things in Homer, except that Zeus bodes 
ill for Hector. Moreover, if the effect of astonishment pro- 
duced among the Trojans by Hectors appearance in Achilles*s 
arms be less than Mr. Ix^af expects, we have still to blame 
for that a poet as great as the great original, the author of 
the episode of the armour. He was as likely as the 
original poet to produce a satisfactor)- effect. It is no great 
argimient to say that the whole description of the change, 
wherever alluded to, can readily be taken out. Could it 


not just as easily be excised if it really were the work of the 
original poet ? If the original poet, had it been his, might 
have made more of it, what prevented as great a poet, the 
mterpolator, from doing the same thing ? Why should so 
distinguished an author content himself with * a singular 
failure,* if failure it be ? His conduct is just as hard to 
account for as the original poet^s would have been. The 
Trojans, seeing Patroclus in Achilles 's gear, and with his 
horses and men, * wavered, for they deemed that by the 
ships the fleet-footed son of Peleus had cast away his wrath 
and chosen reconcilement ; then each man glanced round 
to see where he might flee sheer destruction ' (xvi. 278-283). 
Nobody thought he only saw Patroclus. There was a * breath- 
ing time in war' (xvi. 302) — all that Patroclus asked for. 
Where is the failure ? The burning ship was quenched ; no 
more was needed at the moment (xvi. 280-312). Even 
this passage (281-3) Mr. Leaf thinks * possibly an interpola- 
tion belonging to the change of armour, which never has 
any effect but what we find here.' We must repeat that the 
effect which we find here is precisely the effect predicted in 
Nestor's speech (xi. 794-803) and prayed for by Patroclus 
(xvi. 40 44) that * light may arise to the Danaans, and there 
may be breathing time in battle.' It is not failure to pro- 
duce the very result which you aim at producing. If there 
had been any need to amplify the effects, the interpolator 
could do it as well as another man. 

In book xvi. the references to changes of armour *may 
be cut out ;' in book xvii. they *must be.'^ * In any case 
we must omit from this part the forty-three lines which 
describe the armour taken from Patroclus as the arms of 
Achilles. See notes on xvii. 186-228.'^ Well, why must 
we excise those lines? Because, Mr. Leaf says in the 

' Companion^ p. 270. 
-* Ibid. p. 287. 


note which he refers to, *as mentioned above, we must 
reject some lines here.' This is no strong argument. * The 
idea that Patroclus is wearing the armour of Achilles has 
not appeared before in this book.' There has been a 
fight for the arms between Menelaus and Euphorbus ; 
Menelaus is victorious. Apollo prevents Hector from tr)-- 
ing to win Achilles's horses. Hector attacks Menelaus, who 
dreads shame if he leaves behind * those noble arms ' and 
Patroclus (xvii. 90-92). Menelaus hurries off, however, to 
find Aias, to rescue Patroclus naked, for * the armour,' r/i yc 
revx^\ * Hector holds.' Hector retreats from Aias, and 
sends the armour towards the city, * to be great glory unto 
him.' Glaucus encourages Hector, who speeds after the 
armour (xvii. 195) — 'Pelides's glorious armour' — and puts 
it on. The fact that the arms are those of Achilles might 
have been made more of ; but, again, to do so was as open 
to the interpolator as to the original poet. Mr. I.eaf 
argues, as we saw, that Hector's behaviour is odd. We 
have shown that it has many j)arallcls. In his edition of 
the Iliad (xvii. 186) he says there * can be little doubt that 
the passage is an interpolation by the author of the weapon 
making.' But we see no reason for the imperative an- 
nouncement that the passage * must ' be excised, because 
it introduces hopeless confusion into a perfectly plain 
narrative. That Hector, like other heroes, should be ver}- 
expeditious in getting into and out of armour does not 
introduce * hopeless confusion,' and his boyish inability to 
let the lovely armour go out of his sight was intelligible to the 
scholiast. Among Mr. Leaf's excisions was xvi. 796 800, 
containing the beautiful lament for the changed fortunes of 
Achilles's armour. * Not of old was it suffered that this 
helmet with horse-hair crest should be defiled with dust ; 
nay, but it kept the head and beautiful face of a man divine, 
even of Achilles.' In this passage Apollo struck off the 


helm of Patroclus, and loosened his corslet. Helm and 
corslet are supposed to be still on in book xvii., and pro- 
bably the corslet really was on, even if loosened. But, in 
xvii. 205, Zeus says that Hector has * unmeetly stripped the 
armour from his head and shoulders,' though Apollo really 
struck off the helm and loosened the corslet. Whether an 
original poet, just as well as an interpolator equally great, 
might not have made this tiny slip, every reader may decide 
for himself 

To sum up this long discussion of a crucial point, if the 
change of armour and its consequences, including the 
making of the new arms by Hephaestus in book xviii., are 
by the original poet, we meet the difficulty that the change, 
though it does all that it is expected to do, does not do as 
much as the separatist critic would wish. This argument is 
a little like that of the modern middle-aged philosopher, 
who posed himself beside the Venus of Milo, in what he 
conceived to be a preferable attitude. His friend con- 
fessed that he * preferred the Venus.' Even so, we prefer 
Homer's treatment of the subject to that which his critic 
would choose. Again, if the change of arms be part of the 
original poet's work, it is less referred to in book xvii. 
than it might be ; it causes a certainly singular, though not 
unexampled action of Hector's, which, in some legends, 
insures his doom, and it is inaccurately described by 
ZeuSj though the slip is not unnatural or momentous. 
But if Mr. Leaf is right, then, in a very early age 
according to his archaeological system, an age when the 
inlaying art of Egypt of the seventeenth century b.c. was 
still in vogue, a new poet, late in the development of the 
Iliad, was able to introduce a long description of the divine 
armour- making. He was also able to foist in allusions to it 
in earlier books, as xi. and xvi. He was able to secure the 
acceptance of his work, both in the main and in isolated 


lines and fragments. So great a poet was he, that his 
picture of Achilles at the trench (in book xviii. 187-242) 
* is one of the supreme pieces of poetical imagination which 
the world has brought forth/* His whole narrative is *a 
model of vigour, rapidity, and clearness.* Yet he intro- 
duced * hopeless confusion ' when he made Hector change 
his armour. Great as he was, he sank his fame in the 
work of another, and was content to continue a poem by a 
predecessor, and help in making a sequel. The difikulty 
of l)elieving in so many supreme poets, and so self-denying, 
encounters us ever)'where. That such men should also 
be clumsy botchers amazes us. As to how the minute 
additions were made and accepted —for there is no evidence 
for the theory of a * school,**^ — we receive no enlightenment. 
Are we seriously to imagine a professional school of poets 
before 1000 b.c. ? One of them composes the story of the 
Arms, he makes the needful interpolations in xi., xvi. ; he 
submits it to the Homeric Academy. They like it, and, in 
future, teach the whole poem to their pupils with the 
modern improvements. Is all this more credible than the 
hypothesis of one great peerless and original poet ? 


The story of book xvii. has already been indicated. It 
is the fight for the dead body of Patroclus, in the course of 
which Hector puts on the fatal harness of Achilles. There 
are shifts of success. Apollo encourages the Trojans, pro- 
mising the favour of Zeus. Menelaus sends Antilochus to 
Achilles with the news of Patroclus's fall. The body of 
Patroclus is carried safely out of the war. The objection 
of Fick, that the prelude of book i., where it says that many 

* Companion^ p. 298. 

- J ebb, Intruduction to Homer ^ pp. 170-171. 

homer's variety 193 

heroes were given to the birds and dogs, is inconsistent 
with the saving of the body of Patroclus, is characteristic 
of the Higher Criticism. It need not detain us. Nor need 
we hnger over the appearance of Glaucus as no hero of tlie 
original ^Inytr, Ho may, confessedly, be by * the original 
hand.' There may be a needless and motiveless inteq)ola- 
tion in 268 273 and 366 383, where an uncalled-for super- 
natural mist is introduced. The cloud is very well, and 
leads up to the prayer of Aias to die in the light, but the 
frequent mentions of it are not beyond suspicion. The 
weeping of the horses, with what follows (424-542), is sus- 
pected as * elegiac,' to which we may reply that Homer's 
lyre * has all the strings.' The very merits of the poet are 
made accusations. If where rhetoric is needed (as in ix.) 
his rhetoric is masterly, then it is * rhetorical,' and late. If 
in a dirge we hear the wail, then it is lyrical, and late. And 
if an elegiac passage is elegiac, that also proves lateness. 
What was onre Homer's distinction, his universality, is now 
a proof of interpolation ! The author's * military wisdom ' 
in the moulh of Nestor is rejected. True, the 'Catalogue ' 
dilates on Nestor's militar}' wisdom, but this is matter for the 
military critic. The * futile ' performances of Automedon 
are censured ; but a man's efforts when he had to drive a car 
without a companion to use spear and sword were likely to 
be futile. Passages where Phccnix occurs are refused to 
the original M »/»«*', as Pha^nix, owing to his appearance 
with the Embassy, is a suspicious character. We regret 
this because he, in his speech in the ninth book, gives us 
almost our only view of the seamy side of Homeric domestic'' 
life. And * it is not necessary that we should l)e told hp^* 
it was that Antilochus came to bring the news to Achirfes ' 
The passage about Idomeneus, ending xvii. 625, Vlnay be 
attributed to the hand which gave us the tuxsttia of 
Idomeneus in xiii.' In that case the poet who is sup- 



posed to laud Idomoncus here makes him run away in a 
fright ! 

'J'hc eighteenth book contains 6i6 lines, of which Mr. 
Leafs system leaves 1 70, or, by admitting the scene where 
Achilles shows himself unarmed, and terrifies the Trojans 
by his cr}*. 200. 

The story, briefly, is this : Antilochus brings the news 
to Achilles ; Thetis hears the voice of his lament, and 
comes from the sea with the Nereids, who, in the musical 
catalogue of their names, seem to float up like sea waves. 
All this of the Nereids is excised. The Trojans nearly 
lake Patroclus's body, but Hera sends Iris to Achilles, 
who, shining in flame from Athene, shouts thrice on the 
edge of the trench, and the Trojans fly. Hera shortens 
the day. The Trojans hold a council of war on the plain ; 
Hector says he will never withdraw into the city ; Achilles 
laments Patrochis ; Zeus and Hera have a dialogue 
(excised) : 'i'hetis goes to ask Hephaestus for new armour 
(367-477) ; the making of the ^\rms is described (478-617). 
According to Mr. Leafs theory, these 139 lines are the 
cause of all the incident of the change and loss of Achilles s 
arms, and of the introduction of Thetis in this place. 
We might add that the absence of arms is the reason of the 
admirable passage on the cry of Achilles from the trench. 
But Mr. Leaf tries to rescue this 'grand passage' for the 
Mi/ru. in a curious way. If Achilles had possessed armour, 
his instinct would liave been to rush into the war and rescue 
Patroclus's body. But he had no armour— his armour 
clothes Hector. So, when Iris bids him rescue the body, 
he says, ' How may I go into the fray ? ' for he is not ready 
to fight in sandals and a tunic like Pick's Agamemnon. 
Iris bids him merely show himself. Now Mr. Leaf suspects 
that, in the original Mr/itr, he possibly ^//«/ rush out in ann>, 


which, ex hypothesis he possessed (had never lost), and 
brought in the body J This theory turns on h'ne 151 : — 

'£k fi(\4tuy ipvacuno — 

* Nor might the well-greaved Achaeans drag the corpse 
of Patroclus out of the darts,' had not what occurred ? In 
this place the supposed rescue could have followed. But 
the apodosis, the explanation of how the Greeks were 
enabled to bring in the body, comes in late, in line 166 — 

* if Iris had not gone to Achilles.* By excising four later 
lines about Thetis's command not to fight unarmed, and 
about the cry of Achilles (216-7, 228-9), ^^^ apparition of 
Achilles might be rescued for the original poem. But the 
mere appearance and shout, with the terror they caused, 
are infinitely more admirable than a sudden charge of the 
armed Achilles. We cannot rescue the passage by ruining 
it. The strength of the whole sublime passage is in the 
absence of armour and of onslaught. The * interpolator ' 
greatly added to the beauty and interest of the Iliad if we 
are really to believe that, for the sake of one hundred and 
forty beautiful lines on the shield, the whole poem was 
altered and dove-tailed here and there, and Thetis with 
her Nereids introduced. The list of Nereids was objected 
to, for its * Hesiodic character,* by Zenodotus, a person of 
very little taste, and *the Nereids* names seem to be 
selected from the longer list in Hesiod's Theogony^ 243 ff.* 
Perhaps, on the other hand, Hesiod plagiarised from Homer. 
We would fain not lose the musical names of that company. 

The reason for all this theory is not obvious. The 
Shield is confessed to be of the Heroic age. Why should 
not the one great poet have composed it? Why invent 

' Introduction to xviii. {Iliads vol. ii. p. 221). This hypothesis is 
not urged in the Companion, 

o 2 


another poet equally great ? If it is to account for the 
supposed discrepancies caused by the change of armour, 
we have shown how little they amount to, and how some 
great poet, if slips there be, must have made these slips. The 
excised inter\'iew with Thetis, again, as Mr. Monro says, 
exhibits * the true crisis of an epic of which " the wrath 
of Achilles " is the true subject.* * * The complaint of 
Thetis strikes again the keynote of the Iliad, the short- 
ness and unhappiness of the life to which the hero is 
destined. . . . We see that the prayer of Thetis, which 
up to this time has been the main force behind the 
action of the poem, can be so no longer. The boon that 
she obtained from Zeus has turned to bitterness, and 
Achilles has to go back to her for counsel and help.* 
He, who an hour ago compared Patroclus to a weary little 
girl, praying her mother to lift her in her arms (book xvi. 
7-1 1 ), has now to pray to his own mother for her un- 
wear>'ing kindness and aid. It is this wonderful stroke 
of irony and of pity that the commentators deny to the 
original poet. They destroy * the true dramatic 7r*p«7reV«ici, 
of which the remaining events arc the natural and obvious 

All this they ruin, and they know not what they do. 
Even P'ick * endeavours to claim * this scene * for the 
M»/ric-,' Mr. lAiaf says— that is, the scene from 35 to 129. 
But on Mr. Leafs theory, if P'ick is right, as the purpose of 
Thetis's journey is to be omitted, as the arms are out of the 
stor)*, * she comes merely to ask a question of five lines, and 
to utter a far from consoling prophecy and a weak truism 
of two lines each.* The mother, in our old Homer, conies 
to help her son, and enables him to utter his bitterness and 
the agony of his repentance. But by the scissors of com- 
mentators all is hopelessly mangled and destroyed. The 

* IntruduclioQ to lxx)k xviii. 


peddling criticisms of some German commentators on 
book xviii. can hardly be read without pity. Lachmann, 
indeed, regarded books xviii., xix., xx., xxi., xxii., as a noble 
whole, the sixteenth of his Mays.' Others take the most 
pettifogging objections to points of detail— for example, as 
to the exact position of the body of Patroclus at the moment 
when Achilles terrifies the Trojans. Then Thetis (xviii. 
454) tells Hephaestus that Apollo slew Patroclus and gave 
glory to Hector, while the poet (xxii, 323-33 1 ) says that Hector 
slew him. *They all did it.* Then there is discussion 
about Achilles's thought of suicide. How could Antilochus 
hold his hands to keep him from suicide when he has just 
been described as scattering dust with his hands on his 
head (22-32)? Is aicrjpnt; *the iron,' not a later word for a 
weapon ? Is suicide Homeric ? The idea of suicide occurs 
twice or thrice in the Odyssey. The catalogue of Nereids is 
attacked, and admirably defended by Nutzhom and Lehrs : 
* with the sound of each separate name comes the vision of 
their number, the impression that they are many as the 
sea waves.' In the speech of Achilles to Thetis, Diintzer 
excises 88-113 — that is to say, cuts out the gist of the 
scene, the peripeteia of the poem : Achilles's determination 
not to live if he slay not Hector, whose death is to be 
followed by his own. Then, as Hera sent Iris privately to 
Achilles, how does Athene know it and aid him with the 
miraculous flame, with the aegis, and with her voice? 
And is Zeus on Olympus at the moment, or is he on 
Ida ? He is on Ida, not on Olympus (xvii. 594) ; and so 
forth. An interpolator, says Bergk, introduced the Trojan 
council of war (243-315), and Mr. Leaf thinks that the 
speeches in the council have been * seriously interpolated, 
though the scene as a whole cannot be rejected,' because 
Hector refers to it very touchingly in the hour of his death 
(xxii. 100). In the eighteenth book Polydamas advises retreat 



within the town. When death is coming on him (xxii. 100) 
Hector cries, * Woe is me ; if I go within the gates Poly- 
damas will be the first to reproach me, since he bade me 
lead the Trojans within the city during this ruinous night, 
when noble Achilles arose. Yet I regarded him not ; ' so he 
fights and dies on this point of honour. There is more 
trouble over the * chronology * of Thetis*s visit to Hephaestus. 
Did Thetis arrive at his house before or after the sunset 
which Hera had hastened? Did Hephiestus work by 
candle-light? It is enough to say, with Mr. Monro, * It is 
true that several events are placed in the interval after 
Thetis leaves Achilles (148-368), and that one of them is 
sunset (239) ; but we may suppose that the poet, in return- 
ing to Thetis, goes back to the beginning of the interval, 
and that the journey of the goddess takes no appreciable 
length of time.' 

We have often said that the gods, by the very nature of 
mytholog)', cause discrepancies, but this is a discrepancy 
which could only puzzle critics of a class for whom Homer 
did not sing. 

The nineteenth book is vigorously mangled. It tells 
how Achilles publicly renounced his wrath. Thetis brings 
him the new divine armour (1-39). He calls the Greeks 
to an assembly, corresponding to that which he called when 
the wrath began in book i., and urges instant battle. 

Agamemnon again offers the gifts, to which Achilles 
now attaches no importance. Odysseus says that the host 
had better breakfast before fighting (40-276). The gifts 
are brought by Odysseus to Achilles. Briseis, restored 
to him, laments Patroclus Achilles refuses food ; Athene 
strengthens him with nectar (277-355). The Greeks go 
forth : Achilles arms ; the divine horse, Xanthus, foretells 
his death. 

In all this, of course, they who think book ix. an 


interpolation must reject all references to the gifts, with 
Diintzer, and so slight Athene's promise to Achilles in 
book i. But gifts of reconciliation are far too great an Home- 
ric institution to be slighted.^ They make the reconciliation 
public and legal, by the offer and the acceptance. In 
fact, they must stand in any case ; the allusions to book ix. 
are alone obnoxious. The debate on feeding the army Is 
excised (154-237) as decadent. Agamemnon's remarks on 
Heracles (88 136) are probably * inserted from an old 
Herakieia,' we know not why, as no interpolator's vanity 
could be gratified by the act. Digressions, like Agamem- 
non's, far from being unsuitable in an Homeric speech, are 
rather favourites with the orators. The speech of Achilles 
about his son Neoptolemus, born to him of Deidamia in 
Scyros, is certainly not in accordance with the rest of the 
Hiad, where Neoptolemus is never alluded to (326-337), 
and it has peculiarities of diction. Kammer thinks the 
speech of the divine horse (404-423) is a * conceit' added 
by * a rhapsodist.' ^ It is one of Mr. Matthew Arnold's 
favourite passages — indeed, almost all his favourite passages 
in Lectures on Translating Homer are interpolations, late 
or early. Rhapsodists come rather late into history, and 
we do not know how one of them got his * gag,' as we 
may call it, into the accepted text. It is true that Achilles 
bids the horses bring the charioteer safe home, and Xanthus 
warns him of his own fate. But the 'speaking horse' whose 
voice the Erinyes stayed— the Erinyes, guardians of natural 
order — is better than a * conceit.' Mr. Leaf talks as if 

' Odyssey, viii. 400-405. 

- Naber thinks the passage unworthy of the old singer. Beigk 
holds it for a part of the original ancient poem, well worthy of the 
great master. Nitzsch feels the tragic force of the prophecy. The 
prosaic Diintzer cannot see why Hera should make the horse tell 
Achilles what Thetis had told him already. 


a speaking horse were *a purely physical phenomenon.' 
The rhapsodist, or Homer, looks on it as an infringement of 
the law of the universe. Mr. Monro remarks on the pas- 
sage, correctly, as one of the omens and prophecies which 
gather and darken towards the end, as in the Odyssey.* 
The 'conceit' 'gives additional emphasis and solemnity.' 
We are, in fact, reminded of the plot of the Odyssey in two 
ways, at least. First, the Iliad, like the Odyssey, turns on 
the prayer of a supernatural or semi -supernatural being of 
minor rank : here of Thetis ; in the Odyssey of the Cyclops. 
Next, in both poems prophecies and omens grow frequent, 
and grow darker, as the epics draw to their close. 

As to the long speeches, and the question of food be- 
fore fighting, Mr. Monro rightly argues that though they 
may seem to us, or at least to Hent^e and others, ' taste- 
less and out of place,' this is a line of argument which we 
must be careful in applying to Homer. Homer is full of 
words, where a blow is more in place, * where a single 
word would seem to be more than enough.* The speech 
of Achilles is intended to reflect his new mood of 
impulsive desire for vengeance on the Trojans, * con- 
trasted with the neutral type represented by Agamemnon, 
and with the i>atience and practical wisdom of Odysseus.' 
The Heracleian myth in Agamemnon's speech is probably 
meant to draw attention from the awkwardness of his 
situation and of his apolog)'. * Even Zeus was blinded 
on a time by Ate ; and a mortal man, like me, may be 
pardoned for yielding to her.'- *This is no time to dally 
here with sul)tleties,' says Achilles, ver)' naturally, and, as 
naturally, Odysseus, who is in no mood of passion, men- 

' Compare the BriJc of Lammcrmoor. 

* As Mr. Monro remarks, the i)ersonification of Ate is shifting. 
First she is a passion, then a person. Hence comes matter for long 
German commentaries, llentze, Anhatti;^ lxH»k xi\. p. n. 


tions the instant need of breakfast before battle, and sums 
the conference up with a few words on the gifts. Part of 
this is out of our manners, and alien to our taste, but we 
arc not living in the Homeric age. The oratorical race of 
the Red Man would be gratified by all the stately and prolix 
discussion. The motive, on the other hand, for an interpola- 
tion from an old Herakkia is obscure. But if the HerakUia 
was an old Herakkia how came it (93) to contain * a false 
archaism, dating from the time when the feeling for the 
primitive rhythm had died out '(Leaf)? Yet the Herakkia 
must probably have been * old,' as Mr. Leaf says, because a 
late interpolator would not, whatever his inscrutable motive, 
thrust in a cantle from a poem known to be recent in his 
own time.^ 

The speech of Briseis, her lament over Patroclus, beauti- 
ful and touching as it is, is taken to be an interpolation. If 
Homer is not its author, he should have been, in spite of 
some curious expressions. Briseis says (298) that Patro- 
clus promised that Achilles would make her his KovpiSirjv 
aXoxoVf his * wedded wife,' a phrase used only of wedded 
maids. But Briseis, who lacerates her face in grief, though 
that is uncommon in Homer, was a foreign captive and 
knew no better. She believed what Patroclus told her, 
Patroclus * the kindly knight,* and we are not to censure 
him if he promised more than he could perform. The so- 

' Mr. Leaf's opinion about the o/t/ HerakUia is that of Nitzsch, 
Bergk, La Roche, and others. It is urged that a mere mortal, not 
being an inspired poet, cannot know what the gods said and did, as 
Agamemnon knows, and that the piece is allegorical in an un-ITomeric 
way ; but Mr. Grote's remarks on allegory and myth seem to apply 
here. Yet it has seemed well to Germans to excise 90-136, as * with- 
out doubt interpolated.' Hentze, I.e. p. ii. An amusing piece of 
pedantry is the tjuestion hdu Agamemnon (252-266) can cut the boar's 
throat as(xi. 253-265) he has a wounded arm. To consider so curiously 
is to outdo the most peevish Alexandrine critics. 

202 BOOK XX 

called non-Epic expressions in her lament are only cases 
of the n^lect of the digamma. 

Probably the best argument in favour of this book, and 
of xviii., is their masterly effect in completing the com- 
position of the whole epic. In the beginning of xviii., in 
the inter\Mew of Achilles with Thetis, we have the comple- 
ment of his interview with her in book i. * The boon that 
she obtained from Zeus has turned to bitterness, and 
Achilles has to go back to her for counsel and help.* The 
poem, like the Homeric Oceanus, turns back uix)n itself. 
And so, in xix., the poem returns on the original quarrel. 
These * architectonic * merits of construction are beyond 
the reach of * fakers ' and interpolators. This is well brought 
out by Mr. Monro in introductions to xviii., xix. 


The twentieth book of the Iliad contains passages — or 
rather, is mainly made up of passages — which scarcely admit 
of an honest defence. Here, surely, if anywhere, there are 
breaks in the continuity, and here, if anywhere, are interpo- 

The Achaeans are arming, when Zeus bids Themis call 
a general assembly of the gods. Rivers, nymphs, Poseidon 
come, but not Hades. Zeus informs Poseidon that, for 
fear lest Achilles overpasses Fate and takes Troy, he will 
permit all gods to choose sides and influence the war. 
This they do, and * themselves burst into fierce war* (55). 
But nothing here comes of the Theomachy, or battle of the 
gods. In place of really warring, Apollo sends .-Eneas, 
much against his will, to encounter Achilles. --Eneas 
says he has already fled from Achilles who *ever keeps 
some god by his side.* He only asks * a fair field of battle.* 
He is like King Padella, when Giglio prodded him with the 


fairy sword, which elongated at will. * If/ said he to Giglio, 
*you ride a fairy horse, and wear fairy armour, what on 
earth is the use of my hitting you ? ' Apollo replies to 
-^neas that, if the mother of Achilles is a goddess, ^neas 
is the son of Aphrodite. So .-Eneas goes to war, 
hut Hera suggests to Poseidon that the fight should be 
stopped. Poseidon says all the gods had better * keep a 
ring ' and look on, which they do. ^^neas and Achilles 
meet, and behave much like Tom Sawyer and the strange 
boy. They harangue each other at enormous length. 
First they exchange taunts, and next -^neas tells Achilles 
all about his pedigree, though he admits that this informa- 
tion is already familiar to the hero. He then hurls his 
spear, and * le bouillant Achille * behaves more as he does 
in La Belle Hel^ne than like a furious warrior who has the 
death of Patroclus to avenge. * He held away the shield 
from him with his stout heart in fear,' for he did not know 
the merits of * fairy armour,* * knew not that not lightly do 
the glorious gifts of gods yield to force of earthly men.' 
^4^]neas is equally alarmed, but he is rescued, of all gods, by 
Poseidon, the foe of Troy. Poseidon's excuse is the valid 
one — that ^-Eneas is both pater and pius, * He is appointed 
to escape that the race of Dardanus perish not ' (that is, he 
is pater yEneas\ and again, * welcome ever are his offerings 
to the gods,' for he is pius ^neas, Poseidon therefore 
lifts ^neas, like Celtic heroes in old Irish sagas, 'over 
many ranks of warriors.* Achilles is chagrined, but returns 
to fight, and Apollo bids Hector not to encounter him. 
Achilles slays Polydorus, Priam's youngest son, which 
arouses Hector. The two meet in battle. Athene throws 
back Hector's spear. Hector is hidden in mist by Apollo, 
Achilles destroys the Trojan ranks, * flecking with gore his 
irresistible hands ' — and the book ends. 

The book is, for the more part, unworthy of Homer, 


or below our conception of his work. That, in itself, is no 
reason why we should refuse it to him. Occasionally 
he nods. Again, as has often been said, wherever the 
gods take part in the war, instant and inevitable confusion 
follows, by the very nature of m}th. Homer's religious sense, 
when he seems to speak for himself, is pure and high ; even 
in mythology his standard is much above that of Hesiod 
and of the old temple legends. Homer represents a break 
or * fault ' in Greek mythical tradition ; he avoids the tales of 
old divine horrors and of bestial amours. But, when his 
deities take part in the war, the nature of his task is too 
difficult for him. This explains much, but it does not 
explain the prologue of the book (1-74) heralding a divine 
battle which is not fought in this, but in the next book. 
The strange thing is that, when the prologue and the fight 
were divorced, the diaskeuast did not join them more skil- 

The whole passage about Achilles and .tineas (168-350) 
would not have appeared so unheroic to an Homeric 
audience as to us. All the heroes, except Odysseus, Dio- 
mede, and Aias, are capable of fear, and have days when 
their courage is unequal to the demands on it. This is 
usually accounted for by the action of the gods, a system 
which is part, and a confusing part, of Homeric psychology. 
The long boasts and speeches, again, answer to the ^ai>es of 
the heroes in the Chansons de gesfe. When they were com- 
posed they were assuredly not thought out of place. The 
excuses which Poseidon, the foe of the Trojans, gives for 
rescuing ^.neas are also valid. But, when Poseidon an- 
nounces that the seed of .-Kneas shall not perish, we have 
a distinct sign of reference to some princely house which 
claimed descent from the pious Trojan (307). In line 219 
in the genealogical speech of --Eneas we read that Dardanus 
l>egat Erichthonius, an Attic heroic name, and that Dar- 

i^NEAS . 20S 

danus had the wind-begotten steeds, elsewhere assigned to 
Tros (v. 265). All this may point, as Mr. Leaf suggests, to 
an Attic interpolation, a theory which Fick, its author, 
supports by certain Attic forms of words in the passage. 

As to all this episode of ^-Eneas, the difficulty is one 
which we often meet. Whether the poems were, at first, 
orally transmitted, or existed in writing, on material pro- 
bably rude, it is easy to see how some passages might be 
lost, and easy to see that reciters or authors might interpo- 
late others. But it is not easy to see how interpolations, 
which must have been made by one man, in one place, 
and for a personal or local reason, found their way into a 
text which must very early have been generally accepted. 
VVc need some such action as the recension of Pisistratus, 
whether he was the first to commit the poems to writing, 
as Wolf supposes, or whether he and his friend, as Bergk 
holds, anticipated the Alexandrians by collecting MSS. 
and producing an edition What is the archetypal MS. of 
the vulgate, as it existed in Plato's time, and earlier as 
Xcnophanes and Theagenes knew it ? Some such arche- 
type must have been accepted, and how did passages of 
suspicious and probably local origin, like the episode of 
.^Cneas, succeed in entering the canon ? Tradition which 
is general, if vague and late, points to Athens as the least 
improbable centre of diffusion. But what guided the 
selection of the Athenian critics, who, ex hypothesiy must 
have had extremely various texts before them? Late or 
conservative they must have been, or they would have 
given more place to deeds of Athenian heroes. We have 
already suggested that the Nelida;, at least, had a motive 
for enforcing the praises and enlarging the part of Nestor. 
Beyond this even probabilities appear to fail us, nor can we 
guess how the twentieth book came to be so formless, and 
how or why it admitted *the .-Eneid.' 


Still, in this puzzling case, we do see a motive for inter- 
polation. A royal house in the Troad, pretending to de- 
scent from .4!)neas, had good reasons for foisting in a passage 
to his credit, and to the credit of their own claims. The 
problem as to how the interpolation gained acceptance is, 
as usual, obscure. But it is less obscure than common. 
The lines xx. 219-230 are pretty obviously an attempt to 
connect Athens with the Trojan royal family. Strabo 
avers that the Athenians, for political purposes, claimed a 
mythical kinship with Troy, about 610 b.c. Here, then, 
are motives for interpolation, and tradition generally sus- 
pects Athens as a place where such interpolation could be 
arranged. Without accepting the Pisistratean legend as 
veracious, we can yet see that Athens was likely to have a 
hand in producing the original form of the vulgate. So 
the questions about book xx. are almost answered, and 
here we can give up much, without committing ourselves 
to a wholesale hypothesis of early and late patches and 


The twenty-first book contains some of the noblest and 
some of the weakest passages in the Iliad. It is argued 
that * beauty and pathos' are not in themselves enough 
to prove the antiquity of the Death of Lycaon (34-138). 
To this it can only be replied that a masterpiece, as 
Mr. Matthew Arnold says, is not compatible with colla- 
boration. If the death of Lycaon is not by the original 
poet, we must believe in another of equal eminence in 
the same manner, and the belief is difficult. But, if we 
are not to think the death of Lycaon necessarily original 
because of its excellence, we ought, by parity of reason- 
ing, not to reject the * Battle of the Gods' (385-513) 
because of its badness. To us it may seem bad, though 


a critic in the Spictator selects the passage where Hera 
boxes the ears of Artemis (481-48S) as a typical example 
of Homer's belief in intellectual superiority.' When the 
gods of the Iliad mix with men, or interest themselves 
especially in the cause of men, modern criticism is lost. 
AVe cannot place ourselves at the point of view. It is not 
so in the Odyssey, and this is, perhaps, as strong an 
argument as any other for attributing a separate authorship 
to the two epics. Mr. l.eaf regards the Battle of the (lods 
as * an early parody ' — this is the best excuse for it — * a pre- 
cursor of the Battle of the Frogs and Mice. To attribute 
such work to any of the older poets of the Epos is to deny 
the possibility of any rational criticism in this field.' We 
fancy that few readers of the Iliad, few who recall the 
episode of Athene, Aphrodite, and Diomede, will think the 
divine battle a i)arody. We must remember what the gods 
were, and how Zeus kicked Hephxstus and Ate out of 
heaven, like Ataentsic in Iroquois mythology ; how Zeus 
challenges the gods to the * tug of war,' how he * dashed 
them about his house ' ; how Ares was once shut up in a 
huge pot, and so forth. There is no limit to what the 
gods may endure in the way of despite at each others 
hands. Again, we note in the Theomachy, Homer's con- 
sistent antipathy to the bully. Ares, a feature of both 
Iliad and Odyssey. Once more, if we are to deny the 
Theomachy to Homer because we think it bad, how 
much more must We deny to Milton the gunpowder and 
guns in the battle of angels and devils I If Homer is bad, 
how much worse is Milton ! It niay be argued that Milton 
is following Homer. That is true ; but he outdoes him 
\vi evil, and if Milton followed Homer here, he, a great poet, 
cannot have regarded the Theomachy with the contempt 
of Mr. Leaf. The Battle of the Gods leads to nothing, it 

' S;i::iatvr^ March 21, 1S91. 



Still, in this puzzling case, we do see a motive for inter- 
polation. A royal house in the Troad, pretending to de- 
scent from .^neas, had good reasons for foisting in a passage 
to his credit, and to the credit of their own claims. The 
problem as to how the interpolation gained acceptance is, 
as usual, obscure. But it is less obscure than common. 
The lines xx. 219-230 are pretty obviously an attempt to 
connect Athens with the Trojan ropl family. Strabo 
avers that the Athenians, for political purposes, claimed a 
mythical kinship with Troy, about 610 b.c. Here, then, 
are motives for interpolation, and tradition generally sus- 
pects Athens as a place where such interpolation could be 
arranged. Without accepting the Pisistratean legend as 
veracious, we can yet see that Athens was likely to have a 
hand in producing the original form of the vulgate. So 
the questions about book xx. are almost answered, and 
here we can give up much, without committing ourselves 
to a wholesale hypothesis of early and late patches and 


The twenty-first book contains some of the noblest and 
some of the weakest passages in the Iliad. It is argued 
that * beauty and pathos' are not in themselves enough 
to prove the antiquity of the Death of Lycaon (34-138). 
To this it can only be replied that a masterpiece, a? 
Mr. Matthew Arnold says, is not compatible with colla- 
boration. If the death of Lycaon is not by the original 
poet, we must believe in another of equal eminence in 
the same manner, and the belief is difficult. But, if wc 
are not to think the death of Lycaon necessarily original 
because of its excellence, we ought, by parity of reason- 
ing, not to reject the * Battle of the Gods' (385-513) 
because of its badness. To us it may seem bad, though 


a critic in the S/u/d/or selects the passage where Hera 
boxes the ears of Artemis (481-488) as a typical exaini^le 
of Homer's belief in intellectual superiority.' When the 
gods of the Iliad mix with men, or interest themselves 
especially in the cause of men, modern criticism is l(»st. 
We cannot place ourselves at the point of view. It is not 
so in the Odyssey, and this is, perhaps, as strong an 
argument as any other for attributing a separate authorship 
to the two epics. Mr. I^af regards the IJatlle of the (lods 
as * an early parody ' — this is the best excuse for it — * a pre- 
cursor of the Battle of the Frogs and Mice. To attribute 
such work to any of the older poets of the Epos is to deny 
the possibility of any rational criticism in this field.* W'c 
fancy that few readers of the Iliad, few who recall the 
ei)isode of Athene, Aphrodite, and Diomede, will think the 
divine battle a parody. We must remember what the gods 
were, and how Zeus kicked Hephazstus and Ate out o! 
heaven, like Ataentsic in Iroquois mythology ; how Zeus 
challenges the gods to the ' tug of war,' how he * dashed 
them about his house ' ; how Ares was once shut up in a 
huge pot, and so forth. There is no limit to what the 
gods may endure in the way of desi)ite at each other's 
hands. Again, we note in the Theomachy, Homer's con- 
sistent antipathy to the bully. Ares, a feature of botii 
Iliad and Odyssey. Once more, if we are to deny the 
Theomachy to Homer because we think it bad, how 
much more must We deny to Milton the g-mpowder and 
guns in the battle of angels and devils I If i-Iomer is br.d, 
how much worse is Milton ! It ma) be argued that Milton 
is following Homer. 'I'hat is true ; but he outdoes liiiu 
in evil, and if Milton followed Homer here, he, a great pout, 
cannot have regarded the Theomachy with the contempt 
of Mr. Leaf. The Battle of the Gods leads to nothiiius il 


' S/t:/u/i'r, M:irch 21, lS9i. 


fills up no pause in the story ; altogether, is is artistically 
indefensible according to our notions of art. But we all do 
err, and if badness is to be the test of separate authorship, 
while our estimate is the test of badness, what author can 
escape disintegration ? If the piece is an interpolation, it 
is an inteq)olation without any obvious motive. It con- 
nects nothing with anything else ; it gratifies no local, no 
family, feeling. The story of lx)ok xxi. is this : Achilles 
drives the Trojans to the ford of Scamander, takes prisoners 
to slay in honour of Patroclus, and kills many, defiling the 
sacred River, and arousing his anger. He slays Lycaon, 
son of Priam, in a passage of the most painful grandeur 
and beauty, full of ruthlessncss, justified by a sense of the 
ruthlessness of life. He also slays Asteropaeus. Some 
genealogy is introduced here, and the death of Asteropaeus 
is criticised as a mere variant on that of Lycaon, and as 
inconsistently described. Siegfried asks, on which side of 
the river is Achilles?* This was a difficulty with Zeno- 
dotus. Aristarchus was not puzzled by it. The hero is now 
on one side, now on another, now in the middle of the water, 
spearing Trojans like salmon. Achilles leaves Asteropaeus 
on the sands (171). The bank is described as * high,' yet 
the river carries away the corpse (201-204). Then did the 
river overllow its high bank ? * What happened is as clear 
as may be. There was a high bank, with footing below 
it, on the wave-washed gravel or sand. Achilles threw his 
spear at Asteropaeus : he missed ; the spear stuck in the 
l:>ank behind Asteropaeus ; he tried thrice to draw it out 
and use it : he failed, and Achilles struck him with the 
sword, and left him lying on the wave-washed sand where 
he had stood below the bank. The affair is as plain as 
if one saw it. Asteropaeus, standing almost in the water, 

* Ilcntzo, Ankan^^ book xxi., introd. p. Si. 
- Siegfried, Ilentze, l,c, p. 84. 


on the sand below the bank, throws two spears at Achilles. 
The spear of Achilles sticks behind him in the bank. He 
tries to draw it forth, and is killed ere he succeeds. Then 
he falls forward, probably with half his body in the water, 
and is gradually washed into the current. If Siegfried were 
an angler he would understand the situation. Far from 
being * a weaker echo of the death of Lycaon,' the poem 
here shows us a brave man^s death, while Lycaon dies in the 
attitude of a suppliant. Objections like that of Siegfried's 
only prove an ardent desire to pick holes. A similar desire 
is shown in the discussions as to whether the river is angry 
because of the taunts of Achilles (136), or because his 
Trojan worshippers are slain (146), or because his stream 
is choked by the dead (218). These causes are cumu- 
lative : one might suffice ; but why should they not com- 
bine ? Other difficulties, it may be suspected, have their 
source in the bold and impetuous style of the passage, 
which leaves little room for fulness and consistency of 
detail* The river god rises against Achilles, and nearly 
drowns him inglorious, Mike a swine-herd boy cross- 
ing a flooded water.* Athene and Poseidon, disguised as 
men, give Achilles strength. As in the case where Poseidon 
appeared like an old man, we are not told what men they 
represent. This may justify the earlier story, or throw 
doubt on the later. Scamander and Simois join forces, 
Hera sends Hephaestus against them, a fire parches them, 
they make peace. The gods now fall to war. Apollo, who 
refuses to fight, goes to Troy ; the deities return to Olympus. 
Achilles pursues the Trojans ; they rush pellmell through 
the gates ; Apollo urges Agenor to war, and then rescues 
him, when he has beguiled Achilles from the gate. The 
critics who regard the piece as a patchwork suggest many 
different ways of extricating the original passages. Hentze 

' Monro. 


concludes that the Theomachy and the death of Astero- 
paeus are foreign to the original poem.' We may hoj)e that 
the Theomachy is ; but there is no proof of it, unless it 
be the absurdly mixed metaphor of line 465, and the death 
of Asteropaeus is an excellent contrast to that unmanly end 
of Lycaon. 


Since the study of Homer began, all commentators have 
wished to * obelise,' or reject, lines and passages not to their 
private taste. Had Homer been read in the Middle Ages, 
there is little doubt that most of book xxii. would have 
been * excised ' by critical knights and minstrels. Nor can 
most men of Northern blood, and, with the traditions of 
knightly honour in their minds, of knightly honour and 
of Northern courage, read it without shame as well as 
sorrow. But we do not reject it for Homeric merely be- 
cause the evidence of all the Muses singing out of heaven 
could never convince us that Hector fled from Achilles. 
In a saga or a chanson de geste, in an Arthurian romance, 
in a Border ballad, in whatever poem or tale answers in our 
Northern literature, however feebly, to Homer, this flight 
round the walls of Troy would be an absolute impossibilit}-. 
Under the eyes of his father, his mother, his countr) men, 
Hector flies — the gallant Hector, *a ver)- perfect gentle 
knight' — from the onset of a single foe. Can we fancy 
Skarphedin, or Gunnar, or Grettir, or Olaf Howard's son 
flying from one enemy ? Can we imagine Lancelot of the 
Lake, who naked held Guinevere's bower against an armed 
multitude, retreating from before a single knight? No 
ballad-monger would have been believed who said that the 
Douglas or the Percy turned his back on a foe. Assuredly 
the hearers of the sagas, the audience of the Trouvbre who 
chanted that lost fight in Roncesvaux, or the readers of 
' Anhang^ on book xxi. introd. p. 98. 


Mallory, or Sidney, who loved to listen to Chevy Chase from 
the lips of a blind crowder, would all have rejected the 
twenty-second book and the story of Hector's flight. We 
do not, of course, reject it. Homer's world. Homer's 
chivalry. Homer's ideas of knightly honour, were all unlike 
those of the Christian and the Northern world. Roland 
will not even blow a blast on that dread horn for all the 
multitude of the paynims. But Hector, the hope of Troy, 
fled thrice round the walls from a single spear. 

We must take Homer as we find him. The critics, as 
a rule, admit that there is much of the original M»/i'ic in the 
twenty-second book. The story is that Hector remains 
without the Scaean gates when the other Trojans have fled 
within. Achilles, leaving the pursuit of Apollo in the guise 
of Agenor, rushes again to the gates, while Priam, seeing 
him, laments his hapless destiny. Neither he nor Hecuba 
can move Hector to come within the gates. He is full of 
* courage unquenchable,' we are told ; but this must be 
relative to the standard of courage in his time.^ Had 
he not declined to listen to Polydamas, in book xviii., he 
would now enter Troy. But he dare not face the re- 
proaches of Polydamas. This passage (xxii. 99) is, of 
course, excised by commentators who have already excised 
xviii. 249, the scene with Polydamas. This is the usual 
method. If a part disliked by a commentator is elsewhere 
of importance to the stor>', both pieces are interpolations. 
If the passage does not affect the later development of the 
plot, and is not later referred to, then, for that reason, it is 
an interpolation also. It is not easy, in our age, to satisfy 
critics.^ A part of Hectors soliloquy (in- 130) is also 
obelised, and the idyllic touch about the converse of youth 
and maiden (128) is thought especially obnoxious. Some 

' Anhanf^y book xxii. p. 8. 

- Bergk, Niese, and others. Hentze, viii. 8. 



commentators make the original poem end with line 394 or 
393 — *We have slain goodly Hector.' Many think the 
lament of Andromache (477 ff.) an interpolation in whole 
or in part. The description of an orphan's miseries is 
thought inappropriate to the*son of a prince. Aristarchus 
had a similar view of * the becoming.' Perhaps we do not 
know enough of Homeric society to feel certain on this p)oint. 
We know that the father of a prince, like I^crtes in the Odys- 
sey, might be much neglected in old age. As to orphans, we 
have only the evidence of this suspected passage. It may 
be noticed that Priam's proposal to go forth and beg for the 
body of Hector from Achilles (416-418) seems to lead up 
to his actual expedition in book xxiv. — a book which most 
of the critics regard as a later addition to the poem. Bergk 
recognises in the canto the excellences of the true poet. It 
is remarkable that when the true poet had to pit against 
each other a courteous and patriotic warrior like Hector 
and a young hero who, like Achilles, is really fighting only for 
his own hand and his private passion, he should have made 
Hector check our s)mipathy by his flight, and Achilles even 
more uns)mipathetic by the treacherous aid of Athene than 
by his own relentless and savage revenge. All this should 
warn us not to judge of Homer's taste and his conduct of 
the tale by our own standard. 


The last two books seem to concentrate all the difficulties 
that attend the study of Homeric composition. On the 
one hand, they are for the most part books of extraordinary 
poetic excellence. The funeral of Patroclus and the 
description of the games are passages instinct with life and 
fire. In the twenty-fourth book the long war of passions 
closes, as with a dying fall of music, in the meeting of the 
old, bereaved, and ruined Priam, and Achilles, the youili 


conscious of his doom. Thus to end an epic of war is 
consonant with the genius of Greek art. On the other 
hand, it may be urged that the repentance of Achilles, his 
permitting the body of Hector to be ransomed, shows 
a higher morality than the general tone of the Iliad, where 
the corpses of enemies are despitefuUy treated ; where it is 
threatened, for example, that the head of Patroclus shall be 
set on a spike above the walls of Troy, like loyal heads in 
1746. The language of the two books, especially of the 
last, has many peculiarities more in accordance with the 
style of the Odyssey than of the Iliad. The two books, 
again, are thought * to represent two different ways of bring- 
ing the poem to an end,' and the second episode, it is 
said, * tends to disturb the effect of the first.' * But 
this, perhaps, is hypercritical, as it is to complain that the 
games are described in a cheerful manner, while the last book 
is pathetic. 

On the whole question the mind is divided between 
two difficulties. We cannot readily believe in an array of 
poets, each capable of bringing such great qualities to the 
enlargement and elaboration of another's work. Against this 
must be set the linguistic argument and the apparent advance 
in moral ideas. In regard to both these arguments in favour 
of a new hand, or new hands, in the last books of the Iliad 
and in the Odyssey,' one point has rather escaped observation. 
We are told that, between the composition of books xxiii., 
xxiv., and of the Odyssey, on the one side, and of the 
original MfifiQ on the other, there must have been time for 
the development of considerable changes in syntax, in 
morality, and in the use of the article. All this seems, 
in an age not particularly progressive, to demand many 
years, if not several centuries. But Homeric manners and 
customs remain all this time practically unaltered. Wolf 

' Moniu. 


himself remarks about the poems, ' In them all things agree 
in the same character, the same manners, the same way of 
thinking and speaking.' He calls it *a marvellous agree- 
ment,' and explains it, in a manner no longer credible, as 
a harmony established by the Alexandrine critics.' Modem 
critics do not admit that there is the same mode sertticfidi 
et loquendi in the last two books. But the unit}', the 
harmony, and congruity of Homeric manners throughout 
Iliad and Odyssey are scarcely to be denied, when we allow 
for the different sorts of circumstances with which the two 
epics are concerned. Now, it seems unlikely that there 
should be time for great linguistic and moral changes with- 
out great changes in manners. All these considerations 
make in favour of the originality of the last two books, and 
for the contemporaneous origin of the Odyssey. If we care 
for a poet's opinion, we find Shelley saying that, towards 
the close of the epic, * Homer truly begins to be himself. 
The battle of the Scamander, the funeral of Patroclus, and 
the high and solemn close of the whole bloody tale in 
tenderness and inexpiable sorrow, are wrought in a manner 
incomparable with anything of the same kind.' '^ * In the 
face of such testimony,' says Mr. Monro, * can we say that 
the book in which the climax is reached, in which the last 
remaining discords of the Iliad are dissolved in chivalrous 
pity and respect, is not the work of the original poet, but of 
some Homerid or rhapsodist ? ' We may add that the 
Greeks in all ages were keenly interested in funerals ; the 
mere remark of Achilles that Patroclus was to have a great 
funeral ^xviii. 334, xxii. 385-390) would hardly suffice them, 
but rather heighten their expectations. Again, if we are to 
believe that the twenty-fourth book is the fruit of a new and 
higher morality, it seems odd that, when the poem was 

' Prolegomena^ 2nd ed. p. 160. 
- EssaySy 6^r., vol. ii. p. 234. 


being altered at will, the ruthlessness and treachery of 
Athene^s conduct to Hector were not removed. If interpo- 
lators and Homerids could do so much, it is a perpetual 
puzzle why they left so much undone. On the whole, the 
opinions of readers will probably vary, depending much on 
their own taste, and their preference for the beliefs of poets 
or the theories of professors. 

The objections which have been made to details in the 
twenty-third book are sometimes rather petty, and almost 
illiterate. The story runs thus : Achilles sends the 
Myrmidons to drive solemnly round the body of Patroclus, 
and orders the funeral feast. In his sleep he sees the 
ghost of Patroclus, who complains that, till he is buried, he 
cannot cross * the River,' the other ghosts drive him away. 
A pyre is built, and the body is burned. Next day the 
bones are gathered, and placed in the howe. Achilles then 
holds the funeral games, and offers prizes. There is a 
chariot race, a boxing match, wrestling, a foot race, a 
fenc'ng match *with sharps,* putting the weight, archery, 
and a spear-throwing prize, yielded, without competition, to 

A few of the many objections may be noted. In 
xix. 211, the body of Patroclus is lying in the hut of 
Achilles. In xxiii. 13, it is on the sands, and Achilles drives 
his chariot round it. This is a terrible discrepancy, which 
we need hardly linger over. The appearance of the shade 
of Patroclus causes discussions. Where is the ghost ? He 
says he cannot * cross the river ' till he has been buried 
(71-73), yet he * wanders along the wide-gated dwelling of 
HadeS.' In the Odyssey, the dead Elpenor and the slain 
wooers mix with the other ghosts before being buried. 
Patroclus cannot. Elpenor, to be sure, asks lor burial, 
* lest haply I bring on thee the vengeance of the gods.' 
But neither Elpenor nor the wooers complain of being 


excluded. This, at least, would look as if the poet of the 
Odyssey was not the author of the speech of Patroclus's 
ghost. In truth, the mythic theories of Hades and the 
state of the dead are so fluctuating, in all religions, that we 
need not wonder to find inconsistencies h^re. The ghost 
asks Achilles to *give him his hand,' biit, when Achilles 
would embrace him, vanishes. Such is .the manner of 
dreams. Again, the Myrmidons have their feast (29-34), 
but Achilles dines with Agamemnon. This is hardly matter 
for marvel. No man, in his mood, would have cared to dine 
with a crowd of Myrmidons in a humour of funereal festi- 
vity. This consideration may answer Hentze's objection 
{I.e. p. 44) with an appropriate measure of wisdom. 

About the games there are difficulties. Nestor gives 
Antilochus a great deal of advice about turning the post at 
the mid distance — advice of a nature obvious to the least 
sagacious charioteer — and implying that Nestor knows what 
the course will be, before Achilles has chosen it. He also 
speaks of * a withered stump and two white stones ' as an 
old goal, or, perhaps, the monument of a man dead. Heyne 
says that there is no evidence for wooden pillars as sepulchral 
monuments in Greek antiquity. The poet, or interpolator, 
must have known more than we do on that head. The oar 
of Elpenor, in the Odyssey, is to be fixed above his howe, 
the memorial of a luckless man. Nestors speech is obscure, 
and it is prosy, but the Polonius of the Iliad is nothing if 
not tedious. If the obscurities be not * of an epic sort,* 
are we to suppose that the speech was interpolated after 
epic tradition was lost ? Whom would that profit ; or are 
we to imagine that Nestor's speeches are maladroit compli- 
ments to the Nelidae, the family of Pisistratus, in Athens ? 
The speech in no way affects the race, for Antilochus nearly 
fouls the chariot of Menelaus, but does nothing particular 
at the turning-point Sittl defends the passage as charac- 


teristic of Nestor, which it really is.' The quarrel about 
nothing between Idomeneus and Aias is blamed (449-499). 
It is much more in accordance with the sullen arrogance of 
Aias, as we read of him in the Odyssey, than with his per- 
formances as a gallant man of war in the Iliad. He insults 
Idomeneus for merely expressing an opinion as to which 
chariot was leading.* Pappenheim concludes that this 
spirited passage is a later interpolation. Bergk thinks it 
a true sketch of Greek sporting life, but not in keeping 
with the knightly character of the Iliad.^ As, however, the 
games were imitated by Arctinus, in the ^thiopis^ they 
cannot be very late. The objections to the last three con- 
tests are, poetically speaking, scarcely to be disputed. They 
seem like the work of a later sporting reporter, and it is 
easy to conceive that such a person would try his hand, 
though it is hard to imagine how he obtained currency for 
his work. The courtesy of Achilles, in the whole book, 
and the amende honorable of Antilochus to Menelaus are 
worthy of the poet. The Germans express contending 
opinions. Hentze has no doubt that the games are by a 
later poet, and foreign to the original epic. Christ, like 
Bergk, thinks them older than Arctinus. Fick makes them 
not earlier than 680 B.C., but 'before the Ionising of the 
Epic' (550 B.C.). 


To the original position in the poem of book xxiv. we have 
already recounted the objections. The gods weary of the 
prolonged brutality of Achilles — and perhaps they might 
well be thought to weary, seeing the same hideous spectacle 
every day — we need hardly imagine a change in moral 
sentiments ; it is enough that the insults to the corpse are 

' Hentze, Lc, p. $1. ■ Pappenheim. Hentze, l,c, p. 52. 

' Bergk, i. 644. 


continued. The objection that Hermes is here the guide 
of men, as in the Odyssey, is not powerful. Iris appears, 
as usual, in this very book as the messenger ; the guide 
has a different function. The mention by Helen of her 
twenty years' absence from Greece (765) is a considerable 
difficulty, but we do not know (except, indeed, from the 
Odyssey) how long Homer supposes the Greeks to have 
been occupied in preparing their expedition. About the 
allusion to the judgment of Paris it may be confessed 
that, if Homer was to introduce it, he was likely to do so 
more frequently than in this solitary place (29, 30). In the 
beginning of the book there are several lines which seem to 
be interpolated — for example, 20, 21, where the -'Kgis is 
conceived of as a goatskin, not as a shield. In 29, 30, 
words are used in a manner absolutely un-Homeric. 
Lines 181-187 are repeated in the message of Iris, 
where they should be omitted, for the courage of Priam in 
venturing to approach Achilles is increased by his ignorance 
that Hermes is to be his guide, and in these lines Iris gives 
him this information. For the rest, the language contains 
many Odyssean lines and phrases. If, therefore, we are to 
regard the Odyssey as considerably later than the Iliad, we 
must refer this book to the same period. The difficulties 
of either hypothesis have already been stated. It is curious 
that opinions and style should change so considerably, 
while manners and customs change so little ; and it is 
strange that so great a poet as the author of book xxiv. 
should have merged his own in another's work. His 
description of the hut of Achilles makes it in structure, 
though not in splendour of appointments, resemble an heroic 
palace. In this, perhaps, there is nothing very extraordinar)% 
but this argument has been used in fovour of an * Odyssean ' 
authorship. The German conjectures as to the date and 
authorship of this noble canto, perhaps the most dramatic 


— assuredly the most pathetic —portion of the Iliad, are 
numerous and so various that they carry no conviction.^ 
The possession of the poem must suffice us, and to credit 
the original poet with its authorship is, at least, a pious 
opinion. The only severe test to faith is found in the 
character of the language. And we cannot believe that our 
poet would have ended his lay leaving Hector unburied. 


We have now run through the whole plot of the Iliad, 
and examined at least some of the more prominent objec- 
tions to its unity. Reviewing the task, we find that we have 
felt constrained to abandon the little * yEneid ' of book xx. 
as a probable interpolation, the date and motive and possi- 
bility of which may be approximately explained. We have 
also had to abandon the later part of the funeral games as 
probably un- Homeric. About the tenth book, or Doloneia, 
we see that it may be a separate composition, but, if so, it 
is one with little raisott (Tcfre. The books on fighting, from 
eleven to sixteen, have not improbably suffered somewhat 
in the course of the ages. The last two books are so 
admirable, and admirably adapted to their place, that the 
presence of Odyssean style and phrase need not make us 
refuse them to the original author. Their matter, and their 
peaceful action, under the roofs of Priam's palace and 
Achilles's hut, are more akin than the matter of the warlike 
books to the nature of the Odyssey. Hence the resemblances 
of style may also have arisen. 

With these main deductions we accept the Iliad as one 
epic by one hand. The inconsistencies which are the basis 
of the opposite theory seem to us reconcileable in many 
places, in others greatly exaggerated. We doubt if they 

' Hentze, /,r. pp. no- 11 2. 


could ever have been detected by Homer's audience of 
ladies and warriors. If they do exist, it is more difficult to 
account for their escaping the notice of a * school ' pro- 
fessionally busied in preserving and improving the poem 
than for their evading the scrutiny of the original author. 
A well-known modem novel, Robbery under Arms, by Mr. 
Boldrewood, opens with a passage referring to the con- 
clusion, but quite contradictory of that conclusion when it 
is reached. This at once strikes a careful, or even a care- 
less, reader, but, like misprints in proof sheets, these things 
will escape the wearied and over-familiar eye of an author. 
Thus it is more likely that Homer occasionally nodded 
than that a whole school of Homeridae were generally sound 
asleep. The extraordinary audacity and incongruity which 
are detected in their additions are incompatible with the 
conservatism ' which they seem only to have displayed 
when conservatism according to critical opinion makes non- 
sense. Again, we attribute many undeniable difficulties to 
the self-contradictory nature of mythical fancy, and when- 
ever a god appears we look for a perplexity to follow. If it 
did not we might suspect later editing. Finally, to us the 
hypothesis of a crowd of great harmonious poets, working 
for centuries at the Iliad, and sinking their own fame 
and identity in Homer's, appears more difficult of belief 
than the opinion that one great poet may make occasional 
slips and blunders. We are especially disinclined to believe 
in the self-denying collaboration of great poets in the Iliad 
after 776 b.c., when such poems as the Cypria and 
^-Ethiopis began to be composed by individual authors 
whose names survive. They did not add to the Iliad and 
hide their fame ; they rather strove to write sequels in their 
own interest. As to earlier collaboration, under the 
auspices of a school, we have no historical evidence, and 
nothing analogous in other national poetry, while the 



functions of the school, as guessed at, seem to be self- 
contradictory. Whoever finds his belief in the separatist 
opinions shaken will have recourse to the ancient hypothesis 
of a single great genius, who may conceivably have been 
able to write, or who, in the strength of a potent memory, 
may have composed the poems without writing, and may 
have taught them to successors. Where there is interpola- 
tion we incline to attribute its survival to the original 
editors, not improbably Athenian, of the text which Xeno- 
phanes may have known, and Herodotus knew. But this 
is an extremely difficult part of the subject. If we are 
right, on the whole, we rescue the divine first poet and 
master of Greece, and we secure an almost unbroken picture 
of a single age. If we err, at worst we err with the poets. 



The Odyssey has been almost universally recognised as a 
later poem than the Iliad. Longinus, or whoever wrote the 
Treatise of the Sublime^ looked on the Odyssey as the work 
of Homer's old age — an epic bathed in a mellow light of 
sunset. Modem criticism has noted in the Odyssey wider 
geographical knowledge, different mythological ideas, a 
more reverent attitude towards the gods, a more fully de- 
veloped morality, and a more advanced condition of lan- 
guage — all affording presumption of comparative recency 

The hero of the Odyssey is a rather unobtrusive person- 
age in the Iliad. But in the Odyssey he is, in extremely 
different and in far more trying circumstances, the same 
man as the hero with whom the Iliad made us acquainted. 
In both poems hjs character for staunchn ess, eloquence, 
and shrewdness is consistently maintained. Is Odysseus 
borrowed, then, from the Iliad by the Odyssey, or is it not 
the character of the hero that is borrowed from the 
Odyssey by the Iliad ? Or did the poems (or the sagas on 
which they are based) grow like sisters— side by side, per- 
haps, through a period of centuries ? 

Before examining the adventures of Odysseus, in the 
Odyssey, it may be well to consider these questions and to 
note what part he bore in the Iliad Unluckily, no certain 


ground can be won while the Ihad itself is regarded by 
critics as a patchwork of different dates. In book i. of the 
Iliad, Odysseus at once appears as a great chief — one of 
the small council of kings. He restores Chryseis to her 
father ; but this occurs in a passage over which doubt has 
been thrown (i. 440-480). Here he is styled * Odysseus of 
the many counsels/ In book ii. he stands desponding by 
his ship when the host is fleeing, after the * trial ' by Aga- 
memnon. Here Athene appears as his patroness, which is 
her position in the Odyssey, and bids him stop the rout. 
Here, too, he styles himself * father of Telemachus ' (ii. 260, 
and again in iv. 354). Telemachus, therefore, is known to 
the Iliad, though, according to the higher critics, he and 
his adventures had no share in the * original * Odyssey. 
But book ii. of the Iliad is regarded as * not original ^ by 
Mr. Leaf, Fick, and many others, and we can only say that, 
when it was composed, Telemachus was already a familiar 
figure. He may even have had his part in the legend of 
Odysseus's wanderings, for, apart from the Odyssey, Tele- 
machus has no raison cfetre^ unless we believe in a separate 
independent, early Telemachus, which is hardly credible. 
According to Mr. Leaf, the deed of Odysseus, when he pre- 
vented a disgraceful panic, in Iliad ii., is one of the * earlier 

In the Catalogue (ii. 631) Odysseus is leader of the 
Cephallenians and Ithacans, with twelve ships. In the 
third book Helen points him out to Priam as * crafty 
Odysseus, of Ithaca,' and Antenor praises his eloquence. 
He is described as a short, broad-shouldered man ; he 
arranges the lists for the duel of Paris and Menelaus. In 
the fourth book he faces Agamemnon, who has ventured to 
rebuke him. The king shall see how * the father of Tele- 
machus ' can fight. He keeps his word, and makes Hector 
give ground (iv. 505). His * enduring soul ' — exhibited in 


the Odyssey — is mentioned (v. 669), and his patroness, 
Athene, directs his anger where to rage. In the eighth 
book he shows less than his usual resolution, and Diomede 
upbraids him for his retreat. In the ninth book he is chief 
spokesman in the famous embassy to Achilles, and is ad- 
dressed as * Odysseus of many wiles,' his Odyssean appella- 
tion. In the tenth book he and Diomede, under the 
special patronage of Athene, carry off the horses of Rhesus, 
and slay Dolon and many Trojans. In xi. 395-487 Odys- 
seus alone resists the forces of Troy, like a wounded stag 
among jackals. He thinks of flight, but asks : * Wherefore 
does my heart thus converse with herself, for I know that 
they are cowards who flee the battle ? ' * Endure, my heart,' 
is his motto here, as always in the Odyssey. He is wounded, 
but Pallas Athene diverts the spear from a vital part. In 
book xiv., with other wounded heroes, he watches the war, 
leaning on his spear. He sternly rebukes Agamemnon, 
who proposes retreat (xiv. 82) : * I wholly scorn thy 
thoughts.' In book xix. he comes limping to the meeting 
of Achilles and Agamemnon. He prevents the Greeks 
from fighting, as Achilles desired, on empty bellies, and 
suggests the due form of reconciliation. He it is who 
brings the gifts of atonement to Achilles. He wrestles with 
Aias in the funeral games — an even match — and Athene 
helps him in the foot-race. 

These are the chief exploits of Odysseus in the Iliad. 
The most martial is found in book xi. ; in a portion recog- 
nised as * original ' by the most advanced separatists. The 
hero's place is clearly marked, he is the wisest of coun- 
sellors, the least despondent, the staunchest of men, the 
special favourite, in book xi. — that original document — as 
elsewhere, of Athene. If then we say, like Niese, that 
* without the Odyssey there is no Odysseus,' we must 
note that, without the Odyssey, there would be no Odysseus 


in the Iliad, and must make the Odyssey older than parts of 
the Iliad where Odysseus appears.* According to Niese, the 
patronage of Odysseus by Athene is a late element in the 
Odyssey, and is borrowed from the * Doloneia.' ^ But the 
goddess watches over and saves him in the eleventh book 
of the Iliad. Thus his relations with her are as old as the so- 
called oldest part of the Iliad. How, then, could they be 
omitted in the original Odyssey ? Yet Athene's patronage 
of Odysseus was no original part - so Niese holds — of the 
oldest poem on the hero's return ! She takes no part in 
the story he tells of his adventures.^ That story, then, must be 
old. The rest where she appears must be a later addition. 
So, apparently, the oldest part of the Odyssey, where Athene 
does not befriend the hero, is older than the oldest part of 
the Iliad, where Athene does protect her favourite. It is a 
singular conclusion. 

It is plain that the character and status of Odysseus are 
a puzzle. How did a petty chief, in the remotest part of 
Greece, manage to inherit (as we shall see that he did inherit) 
the fame of adventures which are widely rumoured not only 
through Europe, but among savage races ? Why did he 
whose native realm was distant and obscure, come to be 
more gloriously renowned than Agamemnon, Menelaus, and 
all the great heads of royal houses in Achaia, in Thessaly, 
in Bceotia, in Crete ? How did the legend of an island 
Sennachie, or bard, eclipse the lays of minstrels in golden 
Mycenae, in Pylos, in Sparta, in Orchomenos, and Thebes ? 
Odysseus spared the life of his minstrel Phemius, when he 
slew the wooers. Is his celebrity due to the gratitude of 
Phemius ? 

' Compare Niese, Die Entwickelung der Homerischen Poesie, pp. 
140, 177, 192, 195. 
* Iliad, book x. 
' This is accounted for in Odyssey ^ xiii. 341. 



These are vain questions. We cannot discover why 
popular saga neglects the great, and brings into the sun- 
light of glor}' the obscure. Roland (Hruodlandus) is 
known to history' from a single line of Eggihard, as 
warden of the March of Brittany. Legend has carried all 
over the world the fame *of Roland brave and Oliver/ 
while of Oliver history has not a word to say. Roland 
eclipses Charlemagne, and Oliver outshines the early 
Prankish kings. We cannot account for the caprices of 
romance, which have given to a petty chief an undying 
fame, crowned him with splendour not his own, attributing 
to him achievements far older than the date of sacred 
Ilios. An examination of the Odyssey proves it to be, as 
Fenelon and Perrault said, un tas de cotttes des vieilles^ a 
mass of old wives' fables, or Mlirchen (popular tales) 
Many of these are found among Germanic, Celtic, Finnish 
Basque, Slavonic, Asiatic, and American peoples. The 
extent of their diffusion indicates extreme antiquity. In 
the Odyssey all these tales are attached to the person and 
adventures of Odysseus. How and when incidents which 
elsewhere are told of nameless heroes crystallised them- 
selves round a single person, Odysseus, we cannot pretend 
to say. The phenomenon of such cr}'Stallisation is familiar ; 
we see new wits inheriting old jests, we see Charlemagne, 
Wallace, Roland becoming centres of attraction for legends 
much older than their own date. It is probable that 
Odysseus had become the hero of mjlhical adventures in 
popular saga, perhaps of ballad, before the poet composed 
his song, but how much the p>oet may have added to the 
legend is a point which escapes us. 

The central Mdrchen round which the others now 
group themselves in the Odyssey is The Return of the 
Wandering Husband. This tale exists in modem European 
ballads of Lorraine and Brittany ; it inspires Scott s poem, 


The Noble Morringer} It is also found in China.' In 
China, the returned wanderer, anxious to test the fidelity 
of his wife, pretends to be a friend of her husband, 
as, indeed, Odysseus also does when in disguise. As the 
Chinese warrior is somewhat enterprising, the wife throws a 
handful of sand in his eyes. She even tries to hang herself 
rather than accept the embraces of the stranger, who is 
recognised for the true husband by her own mother. This 
Mdrchctiy then, is simple. A returned husband has a diffi- 
culty in overcoming the doubts of a chaste and faithful 
wife. Penelope is the Faithful Wife, and, originally, there 
may have been an old Greek tale or ballad to this effect, 
not including any adventures of the wanderer nor any 
revenge on the wooers, and not even attached to the legend 
of Troy. 

In Niese's system, indeed, this legend appears to be the 
original Nostos, or return of Odysseus. We are not disin- 
clined to believe that in some such lost story or ballad we 
have, indeed, the germ of the Odyssey, but we do not hold 
that the germ was gradually developed and added to by a 
series of poets, redactors, and botchers. Popular fancy more 
probably combined other Mdrchen into the tale which one 
poet finally chose as his theme. Every Mdrchen is an 
arrangement of incidents, some or all of whicli may be 
found, differently arranged, in other Mdrchen, Popular 
fancy probably combined several Mdrchen^ in the same way, 
into an Odysseus saga before the poet took it up, and, 
perhaps, connected the hero with the Trojan affairs. There 
may have been an Odysseus before there was an Ilios. 

' Puymaigre and Villemarqu^, in Barzaz Breiz (see also Luzel), 
and in Chants Fopiilaires du Pays Messin. The subject is treated in 
the author's Etudes Traditionistes (Paris, 1890), pp. 66-79, and in 
Gerland's Altscriechische Mdrchen in der Odyssee. 

' Dennys, China and the Chinese* 


This Mdrchen of the wandering husband has no neces- 
sary connection with Mdrchen of ' The Shifty Lad/ whose 
astuteness in popular tales proves more than a match for 
giants and magicians. One of the wiles of this person gets 
the better of a giant, the hero giving a false name, such as 
* Nobody' or 'I myself in the Esthonian version. This 
fable is familiar in Celtic legend, as in * The Black Thief* 
of the Hibernian Tales, In an excursus (ii.) to Mr. 
Merr)''s * Odyssey,' are collected mediaeval, Arabian, Tartar, 
Esthonian examples of the story, taken from \V. Grimm, 
Die Sage von Polyphem} 

.\s \V. Grimm says, in this adventure of the Cyclops 
Odysseus displays recklessness foreign to his character, both 
in approaching and taunting the monster. But, as the 
Odyssey stands, this adventure is now central and essential. 
If he had not blinded the Cyclops, the hero would not have 
incurred the wrath of Poseidon, and might have reached 
home with all his company. But the absence of his 
comi)any is essential to the interest of the stor)\ As in 
the Iliad all turns on the prayer of a minor goddess, Thetis, 
so in the Odyssey all depends on the prayer of a son of a 
god, the prayer of the Cyclops to his father, Poseidon. 
The utterance of this prayer is, in a sense, inconsistent. 
The Cyclopes, indeed, put their faith in the gods (ix. 107), 
but yet * they reck nothing of Zeus nor of the blessed gods ' 
(ix. 276), according to the Cyclops, who, however, himself 
prays to Poseidon. But his boast that his race recks not of 
the gods is clearly an individual piece of arrogance, for his 
kinsfolk (ix. 412) mention Zeus with reverence and bid 
Polyphemus pray to his father, Poseidon. The incon- 
sistency, therefore, is of no importance. 

When once the encounter with the Cyclops had been 
attached to the legend of the Returned Huslwnd, and when 

» Berlin, 1857. 


that hero was once regarded as the favourite of Athene and 
as persecuted by Poseidon, the way was clear for introducing 
other adventures which would beset the wanderer. Circe, 
the enchantress, who turns men into animals, is merely the 
witch of a Mdrchetty and a very close analogy is found in the 
Indian collection of Somadeva, which collection, as a whole, 
is of the thirteenth century, a.d. The witch, after trans- 
forming a company into beasts, is vanquished by a magical 
formula in the mouth of a young traveller, whom she then 
bids to her bed. An Indian parallel to the Phaeacian isle 
occurs in the same collection. Scylla, again, is a mythical 
pieuvre^ as in Victor Hugo's romance, a mere seaman's 
marvel ; the rocks wandering were familiar to the Aztecs ; 
the descent into Hell is accomplished by Wainamoinen in 
Finland, by Conan in Celtic legend, and generally by the 
heroes of North American and Maori tales, as it is also in 
the Chanson de Roland^ by Siglorel. The Ljestrygonians 
are cannibals or * weendigoes,' such as in Zululand and 
North America and Europe haunt the forests of faery ; but 
in the Odyssey they appear to have a Scandinavian colour, 
and the description of their home on a fiord may be inspired 
by travellers' tales of the realm of the midnight sun. 
^olus, who gives the winds to Odysseus in a bag, is an heroic 
ancestor of the witches who, down to the present century, 
sold winds in the same fashion to Scottish mariners. 

Thus the matter of the Odyssey is a heap of separate 
Mdrchen woven into a matchless tissue of romance. The 
tales are now dated at the epoch of the Trojan leaguer, are 
partly localised, and are attached to the lord of Ithaca. In 
what kind of age would this be done ? What would be the 
period of long epic poems ? The Odyssey itself shows us 
court minstrels delivering long poems, so that, on a given 
occasion, Demodocus recites part of an epic, beginning 
at a given point (viii. 500)— the point where the city has 


fallen, and the Achaeans are about to return. Such a lay 
could not really have arisen within ten years of the fall of 
Ilios, but the poet transfers into the past the poetical habits 
of his own time. Long poems, as Nutzhorn observed/ 
followed by Mr. Monro, and Mr. Jevons in his History 
of Greek Literature^ were suited for a court minstrel with 
a regular audience, meeting nightly in hall. On the other 
hand, short cantos were adapted to the popular audiences 
of a later democratic age assembled only for a brief 
festival, and addressed by reciting rhapsodists. Thus a 
remote period of Achaean royalty would foster epics of 
considerable length, from which a later democratic age 
selected separate cantos for recitation. If we consider thus, 
we are rather inclined to believe that the heroic age 
developed lengthy epics, than that old short lays were 
strung together about the date of 700-550 b.c. into long 
epics for which there was then apparently no audience. 
Thus the Odyssey as it stands, with allowance for interpola- 
tion and accident, is more likely to be earlier than later. 
The great element which does not partake of the character 
of familiar popular tales, the element of the wooers, and 
the revenge on the wooers, attests an early, not a late and 
law-abiding, condition of Greek manners and society. I^w 
has little hold in Homer : the only important law here is 
that of revenge and the blood-feud, which is ver)' strictly 
observed in Scandinavian fashion. Though unessential to 
the mere isolated Marchen of the Returned Husband 
or the Faithful Wife^ the affair of the wooers was highly 
interesting to heroic society, much less so to an age of law. 
Greek historical times present no parallel to Ithaca under 
the wooers. Our contention is, then, that a poet of the 
heroic Achaean age, with the Tale of Troy for his poetical 
environment, and with a mass of stories, songs, and tradi- 

' Entsiehungsweise^ P* 9'' 


tions for his material, produced the Odyssey very much as 
it stands now. He employed traditional epic formulae, 
and practised that economy in the use of recurring lines, 
many of them found also in the Iliad, which marks the 
early ballad manner, and survives into the epic. But we 
do not believe that he mechanically incorporated whole 
masses of earlier lays, nor dove-tailed in whole earlier epics. 
He worked like Scott in the Lay^ not like Lonnrot in the 
Kalewala ; he selected themes, and composed them into a 
whole, he did not stitch together pre-existing ballads, lays, 
and longer poems. 

The story of the Odyssey must now be briefly recapitu- 
lated. The action occupies a space of exactly six weeks, 
forty-two days, but embraces the narrative of all that 
Odysseus did after the fall of Troy. 

The ordained time has arrived (i. 16) when the gods 
have decided that Odysseus shall return to Ithaca, avenge 
himself on the wooers, and recover his own. Pallas Athene, 
in an assembly of gods, prays to Zeus for his restoration, 
taking occasion by Zeus's remarks on the folly of men, and 
the avenging of Agamemnon by his son, Orestes. Why is 
Zeus angry with Odysseus ? Zeus, setting forth the exposi- 
tion of the story, explains that it is Poseidon (at this moment 
in Ethiopia) who persecutes Odysseus for the blinding of 
Polyphemus, his son. Meanwhile Odysseus is detained by 
a goddess, daughter of Atlas, in her isle, the centre of the 
deep.' Athene bids Hermes be sent to release Odysseus, 
meanwhile she will go to Ithaca, and hearten the son of 
Odysseus, Telemachus, to speak his mind to the men who, 
for four years, have wooed his mother, Penelope, and 
wasted his substance. Also she will send him to Pylos and 

' The name of the isle Ogygia is taken by Wilamowitz to be really 
an adjective, meaning * oceanic,* mistaken by later poets for a proper 


Sparta to seek news of his father, win renown, and gather 
manhood by travel. She appears in Ithaca in guise of 
Mentes, a Taphian chief, and marvels at the rabble rout of 
wooers. Telemachus explains the state of affairs : Athene 
then gives her advice in a passage which has been critically 
censured (i. 269-298). Athene departs in the shape of a 
sea eagle. Telemachus, returning, finds his mother 
remonstrating with the minstrel, who is singing of the 
Nosfos or return of the other Achaeans. Telemachus, now 
encouraged by Athene, sends Penelope to her room, and 
warns the wooers that to-morrow, in an assembly, he will call 
witnesses to his bidding them begone. If they do not obey 
they will perish, and no blood-price will be paid for them. 
The wooers are amazed, night falls, they go home, Tele- 
machus sleeps, attended by old Eur)'cleia, the nurse, an 
important character.* 

In the second book, Telemachus calls the assembly, 
and gives before the whole people as witnesses the warning 
which he had already uttered in private. Antinous, a 
wooer, explains the earlier policy of Penelope, the famous 
tale of the web unwoven. He declares that Telemachus 
shall have no peace till his mother marries. Just as in 
Iliad ii. we were shown the feelings of the Achaean host at 
large, so here we learn, from Halitherses, what the Ithacans 
in general think of the wooers. Halitherses repeats the 
prophecy he had made at the beginning of the war that 
Odysseus would return in the twentieth year — that is, 
immediately. He is scouted, and Telemachus is told by a 
wooer that Mentor will assist him in his proposed expedition 
to Pylos, if he ever goes. Telemachus approaches the sea, 

' The critical objections to all this exposition of the poem will l>e 
discussed later. The separatist lhcor>' looks on book i., or most of it, 
as a prelude added a/nV caupy and late, by an incompetent redactor, or 


and prays to the god who yesterday visited his house. 
Athene appears as Mentor, his father's friend, and helps 
him to get a crew and ship. He does not recognise the 
goddess. The wooers mock. Eurycleia, who is to conceal 
the departure from Penelope, provides fbbd, but declares 
that the wooers will (}o Telemachus a mischief; he and 
Athene embark, and sail for Pylos. We are now in the 
current of the Telemachia, according to the critics, but 
that hypothetical poem is said to have been dove-tailed 
into the Odyssey, mangled, and borrowed from, in alien 

In the third book, and on the third day, Telemachus 
reaches Pylos, Nestor's home, explains his errand, hears 
how the Greeks left Troy, is told the tale of Agamemnon, 
and advised to go in search of news to Menelaus, who has 
now been at home for two years. Athene departs in the 
shape of a sea eagle ; Nestor recognises her and does 
sacrifice ; next day Telemachus and Pisistratus, Nestor's 
son, make for Sparta, sleeping at Pherae on their way. 

In book iv., on the fifth day, they reach Sparta ; Mene- 
laus is sending his daughter, Hermione, as wife to Neopto- 
lemus, Achilles's son, and is also marrying his illegitimate 
son, Megapenthes. Menelaus tells his tale of wandering. 
As for Odysseus, he learned from Proteus, the old man of 
the sea, that the hero is with Cal)^so. Menelaus wishes 
Telemachus to make a long stay of ten days ; he declines, 
as his company in Pylos will weary. A Sidonian bowl ot 
gold and silver is promised to Telemachus, as a gift Here 
it is to be observed that, in fact, Telemachus remained 
in Sparta for thirty days. This is the most obvious 
discrepancy in the Odyssey. Believers in a Telemachia 
may say that it was truncated here, or we may hold that 
Telemachus was over-persuaded, or that the poet made 
a slip. He had three actions to combine— the return of 


Odysseus, the behaviour of the wooers, the return of 
Telemachus, which needed to be timed just after his 
father's home-coming in disguise. He has neglected to 
account for the long stay of Telemachus in Sparta, But 
it is just as probable that the poet made an error, as that 
a redactor or compiler blundered. 

Still in book iv. (620-625) the scene is changed to 
Ithaca, where the wooers determine to cruise for Tele- 
machus, in the strait between Ithaca and rugged Samos. 
These shiftings of scene, and oversta)ings of time, are 
* monstrosities.' ' Even the compiler would not so egregi- 
ously have blundered, we are told, had he composed for 
himself ; but he tore up an older poem, sticking its second 
part into book xv., and repeating there (102) the statement 
about the gift of the silver bowl. What follows in book iv. 
is (according to this theory) by the author of book i., who 
did most of the patching. The rest of book iv. is concerned 
with the sorrows of Penelope, and her partial consolation 
by Athene in a dream. Penelof>e, like other people with 
sorrowful and longing hearts, is a great dreamer of dreams, 
vague and mournful. Meanwhile the wooers anchor in 
Asteris, an isle between Samos and Ithaca. 

The seventh day (book v.) opens with an assembly in 
Olympus. Athene repeats her complaint about Odysseus. 
Zeus says that the hero shall arrive in Phreacia after a 
twenty days' sail on a raft, and will \ye sent home with 
presents by the Phreacians. He bids Hermes carry the 
message of release to Calypso. This whole passage 
(v. 1-42) is a mere piece of * business,' and was suspected 
by Bentley. The new critics regard it as a late stopgap. 
But what piece of mortal work has not its jututura: and 
stopgaps ? Homer, too, was mortal. The rest of book v. 
contains the beautiful description of Calypso's isle ; the 

> Kirchhoflf, p. 191. 


fashioning of a raft ; the voyage ; the wrecking of the raft, 
the final piece of spite by Poseidon ; the appearance of the 
sea maid, Leucothea, to Odysseus, with a present of her 
veil ; the swimming of Odysseus to shore, his difficult 
landing in Phaeacia, his sleep in a wood. 

Book V. covers days 8-12-32. In book vi. (day 33) 
Odysseus meets and is clothed by Nausicaa, daughter of 
Alcinous and Arete, king and queen of the country. He is 
asked his name by Arete, but withholds it for the moment 
and merely explains how he was wrecked on his voyage 
from Calypso's isle, and how he was clothed by Nausicaa, 
that most beautiful creation of the poet. Alcinous promises 
him safe convoy home in the magic ships of Phaeacia. 

The doings of the thirty-fourth day occupy books vii., 
viii., ix., X., xi., xii. In viii., the Phaeacians hold sports ; 
Odysseus is rudely challenged, and, by Athene's aid, wins 
great renown. The minstrel sings part of the Trojan lay ; 
Odysseus weeps, as he hears the tale of the Wooden Horse ; 
he is asked for his story, and, in the following books, the 
* Apologia,' recounts all his adventures after the fall of 
Troy, first announcing his name. This, according to 
Kirchhoff, he should have done at first, in book vii. Lehrs 
remarks that Odysseus did not do it then because he was 
not a blockhead, a curt way of explaining that the poet 
waited for a more telling moment, a nobler eciaircissement, 
when Odysseus was no mere shipwrecked mariner, but 
famous for his prowess in the games, and the centre of all 
men's eyes. Kirchhoff, however, holds that his Bearbeiter 
has been meddling and making opportunities for inserting 
cooked-up pieces of older poems. 

The tale told by Odysseus begins with his leaving 
Troy, and includes a fight with the Cicones, followed by 
a wind that drove him wandering past Malea, the southern 
point of Peloponnesus. Nine days' sail at adventure brought 

236 BOOK XI 

him into fairyland, and out of all reckoning. He reached 
the Lotus-eaters, and next the Cyclopes. Here comes in 
the source of all his woe — he blinded the Cyclops, Posei- 
don's son. The adventure is part of fairy tale. Next he 
reached the floating isle of yEolus (book x.), king of the 
winds, who gave him all winds but a favourable one, in a 
bag, as witches use. When close to Ithaca, his comrades 
opened the bag, out flew the gales, and drove him back 
to iEolus, who rejected him for his bad luck. Seven days' 
sail brought him to the Land of the Midnight Sun — 
* there a sleepless man might have earned a double wage.' 
There he anchored one ship — his own — off the mouth of a 
fiord ; his crews in the ships within the fiord were destroyed 
by the huge cannibal Laestrygonians. Then he reached 
Circe's isle, and, by aid of Hermes, dominated Circe, and 
made her restore the men whom she had changed to swine. 
He dwelt with her for a year, his men murmured, he asked 
leave to go, but first Circe made him visit Hades. At the 
side of Ocean, the limit of the world, in the realm of endless 
darkness, the home of the Cimmerians, he landed, and 
advanced to the poplar grove of Persephone. The sunless 
Cimmerian land is, perhaps, the obverse of the land of 
endless daylight. Tales of the Arctic North may have 
reached the poet, borne with the amber of the Baltic down 
the sacred way. The object of this adventure is to receive 
prophecy from the shade of Tiresias, who warns Odysseus 
against eating the Cattle of the Sun in Thrinacia, foretells 
his success against the wooers, and instructs him as to his 
later conduct in propitiation of Poseidon. KirchhofT 
recognises most of this book (xi.) as a cooked-up but 
otherwise genuine fragment of an old Nostos, or Poem of 
the Return. 

The ancients regarded parts of the book as spurious. 
The importance of the book demands a more minute 


summary of its contents. Circe (x. 513) had described the 
place of entering Hades as one where * into Acheron flows 
Pyriphl^ethon and Cocytus, a branch of the water of 
Styx ; thereby is a rock, and the meeting of two roaring 
waters.* In book xi. (22) they come to the place which 
Circe had described, but no fresh account is given of it. 
There they dig a trench, sacrifice to the dead, and pour the 
blood of a sheep into the hole. Ghosts come up, and the 
sheep are sacrificed to Hades and Persephone. Odysseus, 
with drawn sword, keeps the ghosts from drinking the 
blood till Tiresias shall come. The shadow of his friend, 
Elpenor, recently dead but unburied, asks for his due rites, 
a barrow on the sea banks, surmounted by his oar. The 
shade of Odysseus's mother appears, but is kept from the 
blood. Finally Tiresias comes, and is allowed to drink of 
the blood, * that I may tell sooth.' After drinking, he 
delivers his oracle, as already stated, and explains that all 
spirits, after tasting blood, will *tell sooth.* The dead 
mother now converses with her son ; of the wooers she 
knows nothing ; she describes the condition of the forlorn 
l^ertes, father of the hero. They strive in vain to embrace. 
Then (225-332) famed ladies of old times, mistresses of 
gods, come up and tell their stories. 

Here (333-385) comes an * intermezzo.' Odysseus 
pauses, his hosts praise him, offer presents, and ask what 
he saw of the shades of those who fought at Troy. He 
speaks of Agamenmon — who gave a version of the story of 
his murder, in which Clytemnestra herself slays Cassandra — 
and of Achilles, who receives tidings of his son, and his 
conduct in the Wooden Horse and in battle with Eury- 
pylus. Aias next appeared, still indignant at the loss of 
Achilles's arms, still refusing to address Odysseus. These 
scenes are full of allusions to the later events of the war, 
not mentioned in the Iliad. If they were known to the 


poet of the Iliad he could only mention them by way of 
allusion or prophecy. To the poet of the Odyssey such 
things as the Wooden Horse, the valour of Neoptolemus, 
the contest for the arms of Achilles, seem to belong to the 
past. But those passages are looked upon as proofs of late 
date. After the heroes of the great siege have withdrawn, 
in book xi. comes a passage which has been spoken of as 
an 'Orphic interpolation ' (xi. 568-641). Here Odysseus 
sees Minos judging the dead, beholds the punishments 
inflicted on great offenders against the gods, like Tityus and 
Sisyphus, and holds converse with the shadow of Heracles, 
whose real self is feasting among the gods. After this 
Odysseus and his company return to the ^'Eaean isle 
(book xii.), they do not go back to Circe's house, but pass 
the night on the shore, while she gives counsel about his 
future journey to Odysseus. That counsel contains advice 
as to how to deal with the Sirens (book xii.), the Rocks 
Wandering, and Scylla and Charybdis ; while the hero is to 
avoid the Cattle of the Sun on the isle Thrinacia, a warning 
already given by Tiresias. Circe, however, describes the 
cattle and the nymphs who herd them, at full length. The 
rest of book xii. contains these adventures : the crew eat the 
sacred cattle, and Zeus, at the desire of the Sun, wrecks the 
ship. Only Odysseus escapes on the keel to Calypso's isle, 
where he dwells for seven years, and then, as we saw 
(book v.), lands in Phajacia. The whole course of the 
adventures narrated by Odysseus work to the one result of 
leaving him to return 'alone, in evil case.' Gradually his 
fleet, his companions, and finally his one ship and crew are 
taken from him, through the anger of Poseidon, and, in the 
last case, of the Sun. The long stay with Calypso is neces- 
sary — first to give time for the wooers to gather head, next 
to test the constancy of him who prefers a rocky isle and an 
aging wife to immortality and the embraces of a goddess. 


In the thirteenth book the Phaeacians land Odysseus, 
not near the town, but in a remote harbour of Ithaca. 
Athene first deludes him by a mist on his wakening, then 
helps him to conceal his treasures, accounts for her non- 
appearance to him while he was under the curse of Poseidon, 
advises him how to deal with the wooers, gives him an 
appearance of age to prevent his being recognised, disguises 
him as a beggar, sends him to the house of his faithful 
swineherd, and promises to bring back Telemachus from 

Here, as we shall see, the withering of the limbs of 
Odysseus by the spell of Athene (xiii. 431) causes great 
though needless trouble to German critics, while they regard 
the mention of Telemachus as a mechanical taking up of 
the thread of their hypothetical Telemachia, But how 
could the two actions be more skilfully interwoven, if we 
allow for a slip in the prolonged stay of Telemachus in 
Sparta ? 

In book xiv. Odysseus, now disguised, visits Eumieus, 
is kindly treated, and assures himself of the swineherd's 
loyalty. He tells a false tale of his adventures, giving him- 
self out for a Cretan bastard of good family, who had been 
taken captive in a raid on Egypt — a passage of much 
interest (xiv. 246). In this book Kirchhoff thinks that he re- 
cognises a basis in an old separate lay or ballad ; he often 
does recognise an old ballad in a fine piece of the poem. 

In book XV. Athene rouses Telemachus in Sparta, say- 
ing that Penelope's kin wish her to wed Eurymachus. She 
also warns him of the ambush which the wooers laid for 
him (in book iv.). Telemachus asks Menelaus to let him 
go ; the hero and Helen bestow gifts on the young prince, 
and Helen interprets an omen to announce the return of 
Odysseus and his revenge. In all this passage critics recog- 
nise an ill-made resumption of the thread of the Telemachia^ 


broken in bcx)k iv. 620. From Pylos, without visiting 
Nestor, Telemachus sets sail, taking with him a homicide, 
Theoclymenus of the house of Melampus — a second-sighted 
man and an outlaw. They sail on as far as ' the pointed 
isles,* in dread of the ambush, and giving the shores and 
isles a wide berth. Meanwhile (xv. 307) Odysseus in dis- 
guise informs Eumaeus that he means to beg at the palace. 
Eumaeus tells a strange and interesting story of how he 
himself was kidnapped, as a child, by Phcenician merchant- 
men, and sold into slavery. They go to bed ; Telemachus 
lands ; Theoclymenus interprets an omen of the slaying of 
the wooers ; Telemachus entrusts Theoclymenus to one of 
his friends, Piraeus, and himself goes to the house of 
Eumaeus. Thence (xvi.) he sends Eumaeus to Penelope, 
with news of his arrival. Athene then, invisible to Tele- 
machus, but beheld by the dogs, restores Odysseus for the 
moment to his true aspect. Father and son are at last 
united, plan the massacre of the wooers, and arrange for 
the removal of the shields and spears from the walls of 
Odysseus's hall.* 

Meanwhile the ship of Telemachus arrives in the port 
of Ithaca, closely followed by the vessel of the wooers 
who had lain in ambush. Penelope rebukes the wooers. 
Athene, before Eumaeus can return from his errand to 
Penelope, again gives Odysseus the appearance of age. 
His son now knows him for himself, but it is not yet time 
to enlighten Eumaeus. 

In book xvii. Telemachus goes to the town. After a 
few words with his mother, he brings Theoclymenus to the 
house. Here he recapitulates his adventures to Penelope. 
The second-sighted Theoclymenus protests that Odysseus 

• Critics complain of this meeting, and of the remarks alwut 
removing the arms (carried out in book xix. I-50) as work of a Ixjtcher, 
patcher, or compiler. 


is even now in his own islands sowing the seeds of fate for 
the wooers. They begin their revels ; Eumaeus and Odys- 
seus start for the city from the hut J In his guise of a 
beggar Odysseus, walking towaiward, is insulted by his 
faithless goatherd. Reaching his own house, he is wel- 
comed by his old hound, Argus, which dies in that welcom- 
ing. Eumseus enters the hall ; Odysseus sits down like a 
beggar on the outer threshold. Odysseus begs in the hall, is 
smitten by Antinous, and wrangles with him. Penelope 
hears of, or overhears, the disturbance, pities the beggar, 
and bids Eumaeus bring him to her. Odysseus promises to 
come after sunset ; he dares not pass through the hall 
among the wooers. Eumaeus goes back to his herds, and 
the book ends as the wooers revel, *for already it was 
close on eventide.' 

In book xviii. a common beggar, Irus, comes up ; is 
jealous of Odysseus ; they fight ; Irus is half killed ; 
Odysseus is rewarded with a haggis and the post of beggar- 
in-ordinary, vice Irus cashiered.*-' Odysseus next holds talk 

' Odysseus borrows a staff; now Athene (xiii. 437) had given him a 
staff, which he dropped (xiv. 31) when attacked by the dogs. On his 
now borrowing a staff, though Athene had already given him one, 
German critics found a charge of discrepancy. 

"* This fight leads Kirchhoff to some curious reflections. When 
Odysseus has knocked Irus down, he drags the beggar into the court, 
props him against the wall, and * puts a staff in his hands. ' He 
then * casts about his own shoulders his mean, tattered wallet, and the 
cord therewith to hang it ' (xviii. loo-iio). Now (xiii. 437) Athene, 
when disguising Odysseus, had given him a staff and * a mean, tattered 
wallet, and a cord therewith to hang it.' In xvii. 197 and 357, 
Odysseus put on this wallet as he started for the town, and laid therein 
the food given him in hall by Telemachus. Now Kirchhoff (p. 516) 
does not believe that the fight with Irus is an original invention of the 
poet. The * poet of the continuation ' availed himself of an older lay 
or ballad. Traces of insertion of such ballad material remain : thus, in 
the original ballad the staff and scrip or wallet spoken of were the 
property of the vanquished, which the victor would annex as spolia 



with Amphinomus, a wooer ; and Penelope, prompted by 
Athene, who beautifies her, appears among her suitors, and 
extracts presents from them. The hour has now come 
when Telemachus wears a beard, and, by Odysseus's own 
counsel, when he left Ithaca for Ilios, she is to take another 
mate (xviii. 269). Darkness falls ; Odysseus ministers fuel 
to the braziers in hall ; one of the false maids of Penelope 
reviles him ; he has an altercation with Eurymachus, who 
throws a stool at him, but misses ; Telemachus chides 
Eurymachus ; the wooers go home, and the book ends.* 

In book xix. Telemachus and Odysseus, as they had 
arranged in book xvi., remove the arms that hung in the 
hall.* Penelope enters the hall, to see Odysseus at night, 

opima and insignia, so to say, of the privileged gaberlunzie, or licensed 
beggar. The poet of the continuation, not seeing this, made Athene give 
Odysseus a staff and wallet, as in the passages quoted from books xiii. 
and xvii. Readers of or listeners to the story would necessarily believe 
that this is the wallet here spoken of. 

' Wilaniowitz excises the scene with Penelope, which does not 
satisfy the * time-test.' It was growing late when the beggar Irus 
appeared, in the end of xvii. and opening of xviii., and many events 
occur before Odysseus Is left alone with Telemachus in the halls. The 
whole affair of Penelope's visit to the wooers and extraction of presents 
is blamed as not original, or not intended for this place, although it 
gives her motive for meaning to marrj- at last, and so to choose a 
husband by the trial of the bow. This is * motive<l ' by her rejxjrt of 
Odysseus' parting advice, twenty years before, * \Mien thou seest thy 
son a bearded man, marry whom thou wilt, and leave thine own house ' 
(xviii. 270). Penelope's apj^arance before the wooers is called mere- 
tricious, and the passage likened to the work of Ariosto rather than of 
Homer. Separate lays on Peneloj^e are invented and invoked (p. ^^). 
The scene of the presents may have been introduced by an Ionian in 
the age of Archilochus. The fight with Inis is a half-comic travesty of 
the single combats in epic poetr)-, and prolxibly arose among lonians in 
the age of Simonides. Evidently the tight cannot be both an old 
ballad (Kirchhoff) and a comparatively late parody. Other objections 
of almost equal weight have been advanced. 

* The objections to this passage are discussed elsewhere. 


as he had arranged. Her maid, Melantho, again insults 
the hero. Penelope tells him the story of the web un- 
woven, and adds, * Now I can no longer escape the 
marriage.' Odysseus amuses her with a feigned tale of a 
meeting with her lord in Crete, and adds that Odysseus is 
alive, in Thesprotia, giving here a portion of his real ad- 
ventures and shipwreck after leaving Thrinacia. * In this 
same year shall Odysseus come hilher, as the old moon 
wanes and the new is born.' Penelope replies that Odys- 
seus will never come again. She bids the maids wash the 
beggar's feet ; he refuses to let a young and scornful girl 
touch him, but will accept the service of an old woman. 
He withdrawing into the shadow, old Eurycleia washes him, 
and recognises him by a scar on his thigh, but he compels 
her silence by a threat.^ When the washing is done, 
Penelope describes a dream, which Odysseus interprets 
favourably. Penelope announces that to-morrow she will 
choose the man who can bend the bow of her lord, and 
shoot an arrow through a row of axe-heads.^ • 

In book XX. Odysseus thinks of slaying the faithless 
maids. As he lies awake, he is comforted by a vision of 
Athene, who will aid him. Penelope, in the morning, wakes 
and weeps ; he hears her, and asks Zeus for a favourable 
omen. Zeus thunders, and a weary woman, grinding at the 
mill, prays that the meal she is preparing may be the 
wooers' last. Telemachus goes to the assembly-place ; 
the hall is cleaned and arrayed ; Melanthius insults the 
beggar ; Philcetius, the neat-herd, and Eumaeus show their 
loyalty ; Odysseus promises the neat-herd that to-day he 
shall see the slaying of the wooers (xx. 232), who conceive, 
but abandon, a new plot for slaying Telemachus ; the feast 

' The criticism of this recognition is elsewhere answered. 
- On the axes see Butcher and Lang, Note, p. 418, edition of 

R 2 


begins : Telemachus, who has returned from his curious 
visit to the assembly-place, makes Odysseus sit down beside 
him, at the higher end of the hall, *w^ith crafty purpose;' 
sacrifice is done in the grove of Apollo — this being the 
second sacrifice of the day (xx. 251, 276), if, indeed, the 
hecatomb is not only taken to the grove, but sacrificed. 
There is here — at least to non- Homeric readers — a de- 
cided want of clearness. Lines 276-279 seem to us to 
have no necessary place in the story.* Ctesippus now 
throws an ox's foot at Odysseus, but misses— Odysseus in 
this passage is seated, in xx. 291 : Philoetius later sa)'s that 
he was * begging through the house ' when the ox's foot was 
thrown — a serious inconsistency ! Telemachus rebukes 
Ctesippus ; the wooers laugh like fey men ; Theoclymenus 
sees the shroud of death mounting to their heads, and leaves 
the hall ; the festival goes on noisily. 

In book xxi. Penelope brings out the bow and the 
axes ; Telemachus arrays them for the feat of archery ; he 
nearly strings the bow, but desists, at a look from his 
father. Some of the wooers fail. Odysseus goes out of 
doors, and reveals himself, by the sign of the scar, to the 
neat-herd and Eumaeus. The latter is told to bid Eur}cleia 
bar the inner doors of the hall, which communicate with 
the women's rooms, and Philoetius, the neat-herd, does as 
much for the outer gate of the court. The wooers deter- 
mine to try the bow on the following day, not on Apollo's 
festival. Odysseus asks leave to try his strength at once. 
After some controversy he gets the weapon, strings it, and 
performs the feat. Telemachus draws near him, spiear in 

Then (xxii.) the. hero leaps on the high threshold, 
threatens the wooers, shoots Antmous, reveals himself, re- 
fuses Eurymachus's offer of atonement, and the fight begins; 
' The objections arc dealt with elsewhere. 


the wooers vainly looking for the weapons which have been 
removed from the walls (xix. 1-46). Telemachus brings 
shields^ spears, and helmets from the store-chamber or 
armoury. Melanthius, by some passage not well understood, 
also enters the armoury, and conveys arms to the wooers. 
Philoetius and Eumjeus detect and bind him in the armoury; 
Athene, in guise of Mentor, encourages Odysseus ; finally, 
all the wooers are slain, but the bard and the herald are 
spared. Euryclcia is sent for ; the maids are compelled to 
clean the hall, and those who lay with the wooers are 
hanged. Melanthius is put to a cruel death. 

In book xxiii. Eurycleia tells the news to Penelope, who 
has been asleep in her chamber. Penelope is incredulous, 
enters the hall, refuses to recognise Odysseus. He is 
bathed and clothed, and beautified by Athene (xxiii. 156). 
By revealing the secret of his bed, wrought out of a growing 
tree, he is at last recognised, and Penelope explains her 
long reluctance. He tells her of his remaining adventures, 
as prophesied by Tiresias, * and so they came gladly to the 
rites of their bed, as of old * (xxiii. 296). 

Here, in the opinion of the Alexandrine critics, the 
Odyssey ended. But no Homeric hearer could have been 
satisfied till he learned how Odysseus escaped the blood- 
feud for the slain wooers. 

As the poem goes on, the hero recapitulates his adven- 
tures to his wife, and, at dawn, sets forth to see his father, 
so often spoken of as retired to a country farm. 

In xxiv. the souls of the dead wooers, led by Hermes, 
enter Hades, and converse with Agamemnon and Achilles. 
Odysseus, in a charming passage, makes himself known to 
Laertes, by recalling memories of his own childhood. 
Meanwhile the kindred of the wooers gather in arms : 
Athene and Zeus consult about the ending of the feud, the 
kin of the wooers attack the party of Odysseus, the battle 



begins, old Laertes slays his man, and, suddenly, Athene 
interposes and establishes peace. 

So ends the Odyssey ; a dea ex machina is needed to 
settle the blood feud ; nor is it easy to see how otherwise the 
affair could be made up, under the old law of homicide. 
For, though in book ii. the wooers received fair legal warn- 
ing, their kin were not likely to let them fall unatoned, or 

' Cowper was not, perhaps, a very good judge of Homer. He 
complains that the last Ixittle is * a paltry battle, and there is a huddle 
in the management of it,* the very term constantly applied by Lady 
Louisa Stuart to the conclusions of Scott's novels. 



Modern Theories 

According to Mr. Leaf, the Odyssey is ' a model of skilful 
construction ; from the first we nave the two independent 
parallel stories of Telemachus and Odysseus, beginning 
independently, and joining in the same channel at the 
beginning of the second half of the tale. The way in 
which we are told the adventures of Odysseus himself— the 
narrative opening near the end, and then brought back to 
the beginning in the hero's own words in the palace of 
Alcinous — is a true masterpiece. And when we are once 
landed in Ithaca, the final catastrophe is always in view ; at 
each step we find it drawing nearer, till the interest reaches 
its climax at the magnificent opening of the twenty-second 
book. From beginning to end there is not a single episode 
which does not bear upon a catastrophe foreseen and aimed 
at without wavering. With the Iliad all is different.' * 

These opinions, so contrary to the ideas held by Mr. 
Leaf about the Iliad, are traditional in England. Mr. Grote '^ 
supposed that, if we only possessed the Odyssey, and had 
no Iliad, the question as to multiplicity of authorship would 
never have been raised. The faults marked by Wolf, 

' Companion to the Hiady pp. 21, 22. 

- History of Greece ^ ii. 105, edition of 1869. 


Thiersch, and Miiller, in the Odyssey are so few and un- 
important that they would have been explained as the 
natural blemishes which assuredly beset, in greater number, 
the romances and poems of modem authors, had it not 
been for the suspicions roused by the Iliad. Thus the dis- 
crepancy as to the length of Telemachus's stay in Sparta, 
where he remained longer than he had intended, no explana- 
tion being given, may be compared with the faulty chrono- 
logy of The Antiquary, * The matter of real wonder,' says 
Mr. Grote, * is that this inaccuracy stands almost alone, and 
that there are no others in the poem/ Mr. Grote entirely 
rejected the hypothesis of a separate and independent 
TeUmachia^ *The Adventures of Telemachus,' as a thing 
without meaning or interest apart from the Odyssey. 

Mr. Grote reckoned without the recent German critics. 
They make a great deal of work about the Telemachia^ 
and they collect an enormous heap of discrepancies in the 
Odyssey. The gist of such works as KirchhoflPs Die Homerische 
Odyssee (1879), Niese's Die Enhvickelung der Homerischen 
Poesie (1882), and Wilamowitz MoellendorfTs Homerische 
Untersiichungen (1884) may be stated thus : These critics 
l)elieve, as a fundamental principle, that where the same 
lines recur, identically or with slight modifications, in 
different parts of the poem, there is reason to suspect that 
one of the passages is the original, and that the others are 
borrowed by a later compiler, continuator, or redactor. 
They also imagine that criticism can detect the original 
passage, and divine the motive of the borrower. However 
beautiful the work of the borrower or * botcher ' may seem 
to mere literary students, it is assumed that his incompe- 
tence compelled him to steal, and to spoil in the stealing, 
lines from the work of an older master. Bv this criterion — 
namely, the detection of borrowed passages— are compilers 
redactors, and botchers to be tracked and exposed. 


These arguments, in spite of Alexandrian precedent, 
have little or no value for readers of the epics who recog- 
nise the epic manner, the economy which employs textual 
repetition wherever it can be used. This habit is familiar in 
popular poetry, Volksiieder, and ballads, and recurs in the 
Finnish Kalewala (a congeries of ballads), and in the Song 
of Roland, The habit is also to be observed in the curious 
epic narrative of the Maoris (in Old New Zealand) and in 
Celtic sagas and poetry. The singer has a formula for all 
recurrent events, as mooring ships, setting forth banquets, 
and so on, while he textually repeats all messages and 
speeches. In Homer it may be said that the poet scarcely 
ever uses a fresh mode of stating a fact, if he can repeat a 
formula, and his ingenuity in this economy is remarkable. 
The German hypothesis, however, is that, in face of great 
poetic excellencies in a given passage, we must detect it as 
patchwork, if repetition is present, and must imagine that 
the botcher could scarcely write a line for himself, that he 
was driven to make * centos,' as boys do in composing their 
I^tin verses. 

If we reject this hypothesis as generally applicable, 
most of the recent German criticism of the Odyssey will 
seem to be founded on the sand. 

Another standing critical opinion is that the critic can 
discern what is old, what is not so old, and what is com- 
paratively recent in the elements of the poem. Here he is 
often guided by his literary taste. The more splendid and 
dramatic pieces are borrowed from old poems or ballads ; 
the passages of transition are new. Thus we can detect, 
first, the original saga of Odysseus, or several co-existing 
sagas, whatever they may have been. We have then a 
separate saga of Telemachus. We have also poems of 
different dates based on these sagas. We have, moreover 
separate lays, or ballads, or tales, such as the fighting of 


Odysseus with the beggar, the story of the youth of Eumaeus, 
and so forth. We have, moreover, separate poems, not 
popular but artistic, such as the lay of Calypso. We have 
various combinations, at various dates, and by different 
hands, of all these materials. We have, finally, the epic as 
it stands, a very late patchwork, compilation, Flick-Poesie^ 
and we have interpolations even into that. All these things 
are apparent under the critical microscope, but, of course, 
all critics do not attain the same conclusions. \Vhat is old 
according to one is late according to another ; KirchhofT 
derives xix. from xiii., Niese xiii. from xix. Again, slight 
geographical hints, of a most disputable sort, are made to 
yield indications of the date and place of composition. 
Further, hints in the Odyssey about traditions not set forth 
in full are not to be supposed to be mere allusions to 
legends. They are often borrowed from the Cyclic poems, 
which, about 750-600, were composed, by writers whose 
names are kno\\Ti, on the l)asis of legends. Thus we can 
bring the date of the Odyssey, as it stands^ down to a very 
late period. The hand which wove the epic was the 
hand of a late, and larcenous, and incompetent compiler : 
the unity which Wolf admired is merely mechanical, and 
is excessively faulty. These are the general conclusions of 

The results of various critical researches are, of course, 
by no means harmonious, but they have in common a 
determination to break the epic up into component parts 
and elements of various dates. According to Kirchho/T, 
the Odyssey, as we possess it, is neither the creation of 
a single poet, nor a collection of ancient independent lays 
of divers periods and authors, now mechanically arranged in 
chronological order, but rather the deliberate and systematic 
expansion, in an age relatively late, of an old and originally 


single * kernel.' This * kerne V which Kirchhoif calls * the 
Older Redaction/ is the form in which the Odyssey was 
known till the thirtieth Olympiad, and even partly to the 
middle of the sixth century B.C. Yet the kernel was not single, 
but was composed of an older and a later part. The later 
part is a combination of work of different ages and different 
poets, and probably the elements were originally composed 
in various districts of the coast of Asia Minor. The older 
part is simple in itself and defies further analysis. It was 
originally an independent piece of artistic epic. The 
ancient materials, derived from Greek sagas, are skilfully 
combined. Even the second part is probably earlier than 
the reckoning by Olympiads -776 B.C. It was composed 
with a special eye on the earlier kernel, and was meant to 
absorb and to be absorbed in that, not to exist as an inde- 
pendent composition. The two, taken together, are a 
* redaction.' The poetic value of the continuation as a 
whole was less than that of the original germ ; the details, 
however, were respectable. The continuator was not very 
successful in fusing into a whole many epic ballads with 
which he was acquainted, and which he used as materials. 
A collection of these ballads is the basis of his work. He 
does not keep his motive steadily before him, hence arise 
discrepancies, contradictions, and various degrees of poetic 
merit. Still, the separate ballads which the continuator 
used can hardly now be reconstructed. 

About the thirtieth Olympiad an unknown hand took 
up the old redaction, and amplified it by adding the 
adventures of Telemachus and other matter to about twice 
its original amount. In this process the old text was 
altered and iacunce were developed. The amplifier wished 
to work in other old poems of the same saga cycle, and to 
gratify popular taste by a happier conclusion. His method 


was mechanical. This epic, *the later redaction,' thus 
* worked over,' amplified and generally bedevilled, was the 
basis of the edition of Pisistratus's commission. 

This is KirchhoflTs own summary of his ideas, which are 
presented partly in notes on the text, partly in separate 

In the opinion of Wilamowitz Moellendorff, the present 
form of the Odyssey is the production of a * Bearbeiter.' ' 

The person who worked over the whole, and brought it 
to the shape we know, was *a slenderly gifted botcher.* 
He lived in Greece about the second half of the seventh 
century. The performance is not older than Archilochus, 
and is later than Hesiod. Our problem is to disengage 
this man's work. He composed out of his own head all of 
lx)ok i., the assembly of gods, and exposition of the fable, and 
Athene's visit to Telemachus. He also composed book iv. 
620 to book V. 54. In these passages the wooers conspire 
against Telemachus, meaning to kill him on his return from 
Sparta ; Penelope's grief is displayed ; Athene comforts her 
by a dream or vision ; there is an assembly of gods ; and 
Hermes is sent to Calypso's isle. The botcher is also greatly 
guilty of xiii. 375-381, where Athene bids Odysseus con- 
sider how he may lay hands on the wooers ; 412-428, 
where Athene tells Odysseus that Telemachus is in Sparta, 
and that the wooers lie in ambush for him ; 439, 440, 
where Athene goes after Telemachus to Sparta. In xiv. 
the botcher introduced lines 158-164, where Odysseus 
promises Eumceus that the hero shall arrive in that month, 
attesting his promise by the * hospitable table of Odysseus, 
to which I was come;' also 1 71-184, where Eumxus 
laments Telemachus's expedition to Pylos, and the ambush 
of the wooers. Next comes xv. 1-79, where Athene rouses 

' Die Homerische Odys5ec<,\>^.\\\-in. Berlin, 1S79. 
- Honurische Untersuchun^n^ p. 228. 


Telemachus in Sparta, warns him of the ambush laid for 
him, and directs his conduct when he returns. The pas- 
sage ends in the middle of a speech by Menelaus to Tele- 
machus. Lines 90, 91 are also from this Flick- Poet^ and 
113-119 a gift of a cup, given to Menelaus inSidon, is here 
offered to Telemachus. Lines 285-495, the introduction 
of Theoclymenus, and the interesting tale of his own early 
fortune by Eumaeus, are also by the patcher, for the tale of 
Eumaeus has no effect on the Odysseus saga. The critic is 
so well aware of its excellence that he doubts whether he 
can really assign the tale of Eumaeus to that wretched jour- 
neyman poet, the patcher (p. 96). He is inclined to sup- 
pose that the patcher introduced a piece of a fairy tale 
about the stolen prince brought up as a swineherd, leaving 
out the usual conclusion —the happy restoration of the 
prince. The charming narrative is not the botcher's own, 
but stolen property — good in itself, but out of place here. 
In xvi. 135-153 Eumseus's remarks about Laertes, and 
Telemachus's sending of Eumaeus with a message to Pene- 
lope, are by the botcher ; also 302, 303, where Odysseus 
forbids Telemachus to let Laertes, Penelope, the swineherd, 
or anyone else know of his arrival. In xvii., 31-166 go out 
as patchwork. There Telemachus leaves his mother, con- 
verses with Mentor, Antiphus, and Halitherses, old friends 
of his father's ; he entertains his guest, Theoclymenus, the 
seer ; tells his mother the tale of his voyage, and hears the 
prophecy of Odysseus's return from Theoclymenus. In 
xviii., lines 214-243 vanish; here Penelope tells Telemachus 
about the ill-treatment of the beggar-man, Odysseus in dis- 
guise. In xix. we are to excise 1-50, and 476 on to xx. 387. 
In 1-50 Odysseus and Telemachus hide the weapons that 
hung in the hall, so that the wooers may not use them*in 
their need. In 476 to the end, Odysseus prevents Eurycleia 
from revealing that she has discovered him by the scar on 


his thigh, he holds converse with Penelope, and predicts 
the massacre of the wooers. Penelope then goes to bed. 
In XX. he is mocked by the maids, hears the startling prayer 
of the old woman grinding com : * They that have loosened 
my knees with cruel toil to grind their barley-meal, may 
they now sup their last.* The botcher is here to be con- 
gratulated. Odysseus meets the neat-herd, and finds him 
loyal ; he is assaulted by a wooer. The wooers, becoming 
fey, * laugh with alien lips ' ; Theoclymenus sees the shroud 
of death about them, and leaves the hall. The woofers 
banter Telemachus. 

Now^ here, at least, we are on fair literary ground. These 
passages are among the immortal glories of art, and of the 
Odyssey. A critic who assures us that they are the work 
of a slenderly-gifted botcher of the seventh century mjiy 
fairly be said to put himself out of court. The botcher 
also composed xxii. 205-240, where Athene, in guise of 
Mentor, heartens Odysseus in the fight with the wooers, 
and 249, 250, where the wooers notice Mentor, but do not 
recognise the goddess. 

In xxiii. the botcher claims 115, 116, where Odysseus 
says Penelope despises him for his filthy beggars clothes, 
and 153-170, where he comes clean from the bath, in 
beauty given by Athene, and Telemachus blames his 
mother for not acknowledging the hero. Finally, xxiv. 
439 450* w'here Medon says that he saw Athene in guise 
of Mentor in the hall, is the botcher's. The botcher is 
thus greatly guilty of more than a sixth of the Odyssey. 

The botcher, or * Bearbeiter,' used three epics in his 
* compilation/ and these elder epics were by no means 
pure of mixture. The latest, made in Greece, is not much 
older than the general compilation. 

It dealt only with the victory of Odysseus over the 
wooers. Thence proceed books xxi.-xxiv., except such 


passages in them as are later interpolations (such as the 
scene in Hades, in xxiv.), or are. additions by the compiler 
himself. In xxii. and xxiii., as they stand, parts of this 
latest composition used in the manufacture of the Odyssey 
must have been cut out. 

One beautiful scene — the recognition of Odysseus by 
Penelope— must have been borrowed from yet another 
more ancient source. The poet who made up this part of 
the Odyssey, some 1,550 verses, had little mastery of the 
old epic art. 

The two other epic poems, recast, curtailed, and patched 
into our Odyssey, are older than the one just mentioned, but 
not more ancient than the eighth century B.C. The later 
of these two, which were fashioned, not in Greece proper, 
but in Ionia, is the so-called Telemachia, To this belong 
books ii., iii., iv., xv., xvi., xvii., xviii., and xix., as far as 
475, where the compiler takes up the tale.^ Book xviii. 
153-303 is later than the original poem, but had been 
interwoven with it before the time of the compiler.^ The 
beginning and conclusion of this poem were cut out by the 
compiler, to make room for what he meant to use as xxi.- 
xxiv., and for his general scheme of composition. 

The oldest of the poems thus mishandled by the com- 
piler deserves the name of the Elder Odyssey. It contained 
books v.-xiii. Hesiod and Archilochus knew it,^ and Eu- 
gammon made use of it in his Teiegonia, in the first half 
of the sixth century B.C. But even the poet of the Elder 
Odyssey 'contaminated' earlier materials. Among these 
was a poem relating the adventures of Odysseus with Circe ; 

' The break here is in the scene of recognition of Odysseus by 
Eurycleia while washing his feet. The critic believes that in the 
original version Penelope also recognised him. 

■'' This is the scene where Penelope shows herself to the wooers, and 
extracts gifts from them. 

* Arch,/;-. 72, Odyssey, xviii. 136. (VVilamowitz, //. U, p. 229.) 

256 NIESE 

the Laestrygonians ; .-Eolus ; the Sirens ; Scylla ; the Cattle 
of the Sun ; the arrival in Phaeacia, and probably the land- 
ing in Ithaca. 

The tale of Calypso was a separate short piece of 450 
lines. There was also a poem, in which Odysseus himself 
told of the Lotus-eaters, the Cyclops, and Tiresias. These 
belong to the really blooming age of epos, w^hence most 
of the Iliad is derived. The redactor put the whole of 
Odysseus's tale into his own mouth, in Phaeacia. He also 
contrived the transformation of Odysseus by Athene. He 
added scenes in Hades, and allusions to the ship * Argo,' 
and he borrowed from the Cyclic poems. 

Our Odyssey is thus a perfect hotch-potch of materials, 
\ery unskilfully combined into its present shape. 

Niese's theory of the eldest Odyssey may next be 
sketched. The poem originally began with the arrival of 
the shipwrecked hero in Phaeacia (book vi.). He was kindly 
received ; he told his name, and recounted his adventures 
with the Cicones, the Lotus-eaters, .-Eolus, the I^cestry- 
gonians in Fhrinacia, where his men ate the Cattle of the 
Sun, and, probably, with the Cyclops. It may be observed 
that KirchhofT rejects the lines in the prologue to book i. 
(69), which mention the Cattle of the Sun, as an inter- 
polation, made for the purpose of introducing this adven- 
ture.^ Niese* will not accept this suggestion. In fact, 
with Niese, the epic, and the landing of Odysseus in 
Phaiacia, began just after the lines in the prologue, which 
KirchhofT looks on as an interpolation. Certainly the 
hero's wreck, and loss of all his company, were the revenge 
for the insult to the Sun. But for that he might have 
brought his men home, and then there would have been no 
failure to recognise him, and, practically, no Odyssey. 

' Di£ Homcriscke Odyssce^ 1879, pp. 165, 166. 

' DU EntiL'ickeluit^ dcr Honurisciun PocsU^ pp. 186, 187. 

NIESE 257 

Niese thinks that the Cyclops adventure was, possibly, 
part of the original narrative of Odysseus to the Phseacians; 
if so, he must suppose that the prayer to Poseidon was not 
included, as the introduction of the influence of Poseidon, 
according to him, and of Athene, is later. Then Odysseus 
was taken home to Ithaca by the Phseacians, met his wife, 
at first in disguise, was recognised ultimately, and that was 
all. The formula, * thence we sailed on, sad at heart,* 
occurring in ix. and x., is not repeated in, or after, the 
adventure with Circe. 

But probably, thinks Niese, the Cyclops story, being 
different in its character, was really the next addition, not 
part of the original Nostos^ or Return. Maron, too (ix. 197), 
will be later, as necessary, with his present of wine, to the 
overthrow of the Cyclops. Next came into the expanding 
poem Circe, the Sirens, and Scylla and Charybdis. An 
important novelty followed when Calypso was introduced, 
who kept the hero captive for seven years. To be sure, if 
he had come home seven years earlier, he would have been 
more easily recognised, and the wooers would not have 
reached such a pitch of arrogance, while Telemachus would 
have been a small boy. The gods, Poseidon and Athene, 
come in with the introduction of Calypso. While the hero 
is with her, and in consequence of his long detention, 
Athene moves Zeus to pity him. 

Her influence is not obvious in the adventures before 
he reaches Calypso. Then we ask, in the early Nostos, was 
Odysseus not the favourite of Athene ? Did that view of 
him come into the earliest Iliad (book xi.), out of the 
secondary Odyssey ? If so, we must reconsider the common 
theory of the priority of the Iliad. 

A new poet next brought in Telemachus, who is closely 
connected with Athene's performances and promises in the 
assembly of the gods, in book i., and elsewhere. Then 



did Telemachus find his way into the lUad from a tertiary 
Odyssey, or vice vtrsal Telemachus's adventures enable 
the returns of Menelaus and Nestor to be narrated. The 
wooers are essential to the Telemachia^ and now the scenes 
in Hades, and the prophecy of Tiresias about the massacre 
of the wooers— are foisted into the original, the oldest, 
narrative of Odysseus to the Phaeacians. Then there is a 
conclusion. The condition of old Laertes is already de- 
scribed by the ghost of his wife in xi. 1 87-191. 

The second scene in Hades is very late, as, indeed, was 
held by the Alexandrines, and, still later, perhaps, the 
episodic lays of Demodocus were introduced. As it stands, 
the very stay in Phaeacia is of later redaction, though 
something of the sort must always have existed. But even as 
we possess it, the Odyssey is earlier than the Cyclic poems 
(say, 776 B.C.),* a position denied by KirchhofT, who brings 
it down to about 560 b.c. But * nobody now believes in the 
complete unity of the Odyssey ' (p. 143). Even Aristo- 
phanes and Aristarchus ended it at xxii. 296,"^ where 
Odysseus and Penelope go to bed together. They argued 
thus because they were Alexandrine Greeks, and recked not 
of the blood-feud. The preoccupation of Odysseus is, * How 
am I to settle the blood-feud with the kindred of the 
wooers, after I have slain my enemies ? ' (xx. 42). This- 
was a matter of indifference to the Alexandrine Greeks, but 
no Greek of the heroic age could have rested till he knew 
how that question was answered. The same difficulty 
would have occurred in any Icelandic saga. It needs 
Athene, ex machina, xxiv. 546, to compose the matter. 

Of course, it does not follow that we have the conclu- 
sion in its original shape ; but a conclusion, composing so 
great a feud, there must from the first have been. There 

' Niese, op. cit. pp. 140, 141, p. 226. 
- Scholia on xxii. 296. 


are difficulties with the wooers in Hades. Has Hermes 
any right to be the Guide of Souls, Psychopompus ? The 
Muses, for the first time, appear as nine in number, answer- 
ing to the later differentiation of the arts, unless the arts 
were differentiated into nine, to correspond with the number 
of the Muses. The White Rock, the Gates of the Sun, the 
People of Dreams, appear here (xxiv.), not in the Nekyia of 
book xi. But, we reply, in book xi., Odysseus does not go 
to Hades by the Path of Souls, but * in a black ship,' a 
living man, to the surprise of the shades. 

Niese's general conclusion is that the Iliad and Odyssey 
are the results of a long period of development. The 
beginnings or germs of both may be nearly contemporary, 
the Iliad took the lead in later expansions. To ourselves 
it seems plain that the character of the hero of the Odyssey 
was either given to both poems by tradition, or is the work 
of one mind, or is a quite unexampled success as a sequel 
by an alien hand. 

s 1 



We have sketched the general ideas of the recent critics : 
it is now time to examine some of the processes by which 
they reach and seek to establish their conclusions. To 
begin with Kirchhoff, who is, in a sense, the father of the 
later and more revolutionar)- Odyssean criticism, we find 
him introducing some ver)* grave considerations in his first 
excursus. Therein he tries to show that there are interpola- 
tions in book i. — e.g. lines 6-8— while the whole book, after 
line 87, is an ill-conceived cento derived from book ii., 
which is really older than book i., and part of the original 
Telemachia. As usual, repetitions of lines, regarded as 
the borrowings of an imbecile, supply much of the proof. 
As the poem at first stood, Athene did not go to Ithaca to 
send Telemachus in quest of news concerning his father. 
As the poem stands, in i. 88 she promises to go to Ithaca 
to encourage the son of Odysseus, Telemachus, and bid 
him call the wooers of his mother to a public assembly, 
* speak out his mind ' to them, and then depart to Sparta and 
Pylos in search of news and renown. She does go to Ithaca, 
appears in the courtyard of Telemachus in the guise of 
Mentes, a Taphian chief, finds the wooers revelling, is 
greeted by Telemachus, observes the riotous festint)- of the 
wooers, and asks why they so behave. The poet's design 


is to introduce us to the arrogance of the wooers as beheld 
by a stranger ; the method of introducing them is highly 
artistic. Telemachus explains the scene, a result of his 
father's long absence. Athene declares herself to be a 
friend of his father's, and prophesies the return of 
Odysseils. This is the first of a series of predictions and 
omens, which grow in force and sublimity as the catastrophe 
approaches. Telemachus sets forth the excuse on which 
the wooers ravage his house. Athene prays for the return 
of Odysseus. She then (269 -305) gives him advice as to 
his conduct. 

* But I charge thee to take counsel how thou mayest 
thrust forth the wooers from the hall. Come now, mark 
and take heed unto my words. On the morrow call the 
Achsean lords to the assembly, and declare thy saying to 
all, and take the gods to witness. As for the wooers bid 
them scatter them each one to his own, and for thy mother, 
if her heart is moved to marriage, let her return to the hall 
of that mighty man her father, and her kinsfolk will furnish 
a wedding feast, and array the gifts of wooing exceeding 
many, all that should go back with a daughter dearly be- 
loved. And to thyself I will give a word of wise counsel, 
if perchance thou wilt hearken. Fit out a ship, the best thou 
hast, with twenty oarsmen, and go to inquire concerning thy 
father that is long afar, if perchance any man shall tell thee 
aught, or if thou mayest hear the voice from Zeus, which 
chiefly brings tidings to men. Ciet thee first to Pylos and 
inquire of goodly Nestor, and from thence to Sparta to 
Menelaus of the fair hair, for he came home the last of 
the mail-coated Achaeans. If thou shalt hear news of 
the life and the returning of thy father, then verily thou 
mayest endure the wasting for yet a year. But if thou 
shalt hear that he is dead and gone, return then to thine 
own dear country and pile his mound, and over it pay 


burial rites, full many as is due, and give thy mother to 
a husband. But when thou hast done this and made an 
end, thereafter take counsel in thy mind and heart, how 
thou mayest slay the wooers in thy halls, whether by guile 
or openly ; for thou shouldest not carry childish thoughts, 
being no longer of years thereto. Or hast thou not heard 
what renown the goodly Orestes gat him among all men 
in that he slew the slayer of his father, guileful .*Egisthus, 
who killed his famous sire ? And thou, too, my friend, for 
I see that thou art ver)- comely and tall, be valiant, that 
even men unborn may praise thee. But I will now go 
down to the swift ship and to my men, who methinks chafe 
much at tarrying for me ; and do thou thyself take heed 
and give ear unto my words.' 

It is on this passage, which assuredly 'presents diffi- 
culties, that KirchhofT bases his theory of a large interpola- 
tion within the Telemachy, itself a late addition to the 
Return of Odysseus. Telemachus is bidden to call the 
Wooers to an assembly on the following day, the gods being 
witnesses. He is to bid the wooers scatter to their own 
lands, and, if his mother is so inclined, she is to return to 
her father, ' and they ' (her father's people) * will make a 
wedding feast, and furnish the wedding gifts, all that should 
go back with a dearly beloved child.' The ucra are the 
bride-price paid by the wooer. \\Tiere the child was very 
dear, they, or a portion of them, were expended on her, a 
custom still prevalent in some countries.^ Now, Telemachus 
does not succeed in carrying out this advice, or rather, 
nothing comes of his acting on it. The advice, and its 
acceptance, are merely pro forma. In i. 372, on the 
evening of Athene's appearance, he says to the wooers, 
* To-morrow let us go to the assembly, that I may clearly 

' See Mr. Merry's note on the pa«;sage, and Appendix. Note B, 
to Odyssey^ Butcher and Lang. 


speak out my saying to you — namely, to leave my halls, 
but, if you think it better to waste one man's wealth un- 
atoned, waste away, only I will call to the gods ; if Zeus 
grants revenge, then shall you all perish in the house — 
unavenged.' On the following day (ii. 40-79) he explains 
his position to the whole assembly of the people. Antinous 
bids him send his mother home, and let her father give her 
in marriage. Till then the wooers will waste his house. 
Telemachus (130) says he cannot send his mother away 
against her will. He then gives the /orma/ notice (ii. 139), 

* Go forth from my halls,' with the appeal to Zeus and the 
threat that the wooers shall perish unavenged. 

All this in itself is perfectly clear. The warning, first 
given in private, is not expected to make the wooers with- 
draw. It is a mere legal observance repeated in public 
assembly for the sake of procuring witnesses. After this 
warning, if the wooers persist, no werge/d, no ttou'v, or 
atonement, will be paid to their kin after they are slain. It 
is not expected that they will accept the warning, but the 
warning puts it beyond the power of their kin to make 
legal claim for atonement* 

So far, and so considered, there is no difficulty in 
Athene's advice nor in the action of Telemachus. The 
first part of the advice is given pro forma, and is carried 
out in the same spirit. Kirchhoff, however, finds that only 
the frivolous reader, who takes a superficial view, can be 
satisfied. Yet no earlier critic had complained ; that was left 
to Kirchhoff. We may surely answer that if the passage has 
hitherto satisfied the world for more than two thousand 
years, the poet's purpose has been sufficiently served.^ 

• Compare Baron Bradwardine's payment of atonement and his 

* Letters of Slains ' in Waveriey^ and the general course of legal pro- 
ceedings in the Icelandic sagas. 

- Kirchhoff, p. 240. Kammer points out that Kirchhoff had been 
anticipated— by Jacob. 

264 kirchhoff's vif.w 

Athene next bids Telemachus consider how to expel the 
wooers (i. 270). But she never shows him how he is to 
do this. There is inconsistency and verbal difficulty in 
lines 274-278 : *Bid the wooers disperse, and let your 
mother go home and get married.* And certainly Athene's 
speech would be much improved if she said, ' For the sake 
of l^;al form, bid the wooers disperse, and offer your 
mother a choice of returning to her father. The wooers 
will not budge, your mother will not go, and then you must 
act as I shall dictate.' If Athene had spoken thus, all 
would be plain sailing. The question is whether her 
succinctness can only be explained as a mechanical use, 
in her speech, of words adapted from a subsequent, but, 
in date of composition, earlier, passage, where Telemachus 
.speaks (ii. 140) in the assembly, and the wooer Eury- 
machus replies. In Kirchhoff's opinion, the passage in 
book i. is a mechanical repetition of the passages in book ii. 
We have already said that Telemachus's double issue of the 
warning— first in the hall in book i., second in the assembly 
in book ii.— is not necessarily superfluous. The legal 
formality, with all the people for witnesses, had to be 
accomplished. Textual repetition of statements is a ' note ' 
of ballad and early epic, as in the So/tg of Roland^ but 
critics constantly regard such repetitions of fomiulce, and 
useful half lines or lines, as proofs of interpolation. In any 
case, Kirchhoff decides that the confusion of the statement 
of Athene in book i. is a result of unintelligent transposi- 
tion. The verbal difficulties are the necessar>' * Nemesis ' 
of a mechanical rearrangement, by which the words are 
squeezed into a strange environment. Hence all that is 
essentially connected with i. 270 is later than what follows 
from the speeches of Telemachus and Eur)'machus. 

There are other troubles. The proposal to marry off 
the mother before Odysseus's death is ascertained conflicts 


with Athene's later advice to seek news of the father. To 
this we may reply that the advice to marry Penelope is 
merely formal— that it certainly would not be accepted. 
After due season and a year's waiting, Penelope might be 
compelled to make a choice : in the conclusion she actually 
begins to make one. Again, there are difficulties about the 
€10 ra, which were (in the first instance) provided by the 
wooer, not by the father. Once more Telemachus, after 
seeking news of his father, is bidden to wait a year, then 
marry off his mother, and then when, ex hypothesis the 
wooers have dispersed, consider how he may kill them, 
openly or by guile, in his own hall (i. 295). But, 
ex hypothesis they will by that time have left the hall. We 
may answer that, whether they had left or not, he had his 
injuries to revenge, his honour to restore, which he might 
do by giving a farewell feast, and slaying the wooers. The 
logical sequence of Athene's speech is certainly faulty in 
the earlier part. But can this only be accounted for by 
a late author of book i. manipulating what he found in the 
much older book ii. ? 

Anyone who ^ could build a hexameter ' and could draw 
the noble picture of the wooers' arrogance (and this the 
despised redactor must have done) could also surely have 
arranged his matter in a more adequate way. Later we see 
that, by Kirchhoff's confession, he could dovetail very 
skilfully. He needed not to steal and spoil a passage. 
The economy of phrases in the epics is a curious and 
difficult subject, but the textual repetition of a message or 
counsel need cause us little trouble. However, the long 
analysis of Kirchhoff leads him to regard book ii. as the 
work of a much earlier poet than book i., with all that de- 
pends on it after line 86. As a consequence, we seem to 
have two poets engaged on the adventures of Telemachus, 
uninteresting as these are, apart from their connection with 


Odysseus. It is rather amusing to find that Kirchhoff 
(ii. 262) has to explain the prayer of Telemachus to * the 
god who came last night to our house * — namely, to Athene. 
— as an interpolation. • On his hypothesis, no god had come 
to the house at all, and book i., after line 86, was later than 
book ii. Therefore, the interpolator who so clumsily and 
mechanically wrought book i. by assistance from book ii. 
could none the less in ii. 260 make a masterly piece of 
dovetailing ! If he could do it, why did he not do it, 
except on an artistic theory that he must repeat a piece 
of advice textually ? But, if that was a rule of epic com- 
position, such repetitions are not suspicious. As usual, a 
theory of separatism necessitates arbitrary excision of what- 
ever does not make for it, though there may be nothing 
against the passage excised but collision with the theory. 
Meanwhile Niese ' accepts book i. as ratified by the allusion 
in book ii. 262. 

Yet Niese regards the speech of Athene and her advice 
(i. 269-278) as late. If the goddess did not give the 
counsel therein, what did she come for, and what did she 
do? The goddess performs what she promised (i. 90-95). 
Telemachus takes a course of action. What was the 
goddess's counsel, if not that which she proclaimed and 
he acted upon ? 

This consideration militates against Niese s theory that, 
though book i. is genuine, the provocation to the wooers by 
Telemachus and the much discussed speech of Athene as 
Mentes are probably late. As Athene's speech stands, it is 
undeniably ver}' awkward, but if she was to advise Tele- 
machus at all, she must have given, in some shape, the 
counsel which he took. Niese does not believe that the 
TeUmachia was once a separate poem, of which the 
original beginning and end are lost, nor that the first book 

' Die EnhvickeJung der Hotnerischen Poesie^ p. 148, note 1. 


of the Odyssey is later than and was modelled on the 
second.* The TeUmachia is based on the Odyssey as we 
have it, and no other Motivirung for it is conceivable : the 
voyage of Telemachus by itself is motiveless, and it has its 
origin in * the counsel of the goddess ' in book i. The 
expedition is only conceivable as part of the epic as it 
stands. Nor are the adventures of Telemachus connected 
only with book i., but are interwoven with the whole poem. 
The warning of Telemachus, the prophecy of Athene in 
book i., point directly to the conclusion— the slaying of the 
wooers, which, again, is prepared by other prophecies and 
omens in other parts of the Tekmachia^ as ii. 141- 176, 
and in books iii. and iv. We may add that, through a 
meeting with Telemachus, the second-sighted man, Theo- 
clymenus, is brought into the tale, and it is he who delivers 
the clearest and most appalling prophecy of the slaying. 
Thus, and in other ways, the Telemachia is inextricably 
interlaced with and essential to the Odyssey. 

The unlucky book i. has been tattered, as we saw, by 
Kirchhoff. Wilamowitz gets rid of it altogether. He does 
not, like Kirchhoff, spare lines 1-87. The book is indi- 
visible, it is intended for the place which it occupies, it 
gives the * exposition ' of our Odyssey from beginning 
to end, introducing the old siave and Laertes, who are 
brought forward at the conclusion, even in book xxiv. 
From beginning to end, it is a Flick-Poesie^ a piece of patch- 
work, and is about the latest element in the whole Odyssey. 
Moreover, the book is indispensable : without it book ii. 
has no beginning. The beginning which it once had must 
have been cut out to make place for book i. Doubtless the 
old beginning of ii. was destroyed by the author of book i. 
The beginning of book v. has also disappeared. At present 
it opens with an uninteresting assembly of gods. The 

' Op, cit. p. 148. 


patcher has got rid of the original opening for the purpose 
of uniting the TeUmachia and Return of Odysseus into a 
single poem. He employed his scissors and tailoring skill 
on the conclusion of book iv. (p. 21). 

Granting all this for a moment, we ask why did this 
tailor of the Muses, or why did KirchhofTs redactor, 
undertake his task ? What had he to get by making a long 
epic out of several shorter poems and shoddy of his own in 
the seventh century b.c. ? Where was he to find an 
audience? There were no longer any royal and heroic 
halls wherein he could rant through his rubbish ; nay, the 
rhapsodists were probably beginning to recite selected 
passages to popular crowds on days of festival. 

Is it to be supposed that he looked for his reward to a 
public of readers ? The composition of * Cyclic * epics by 
men of kno>vn names, who, doubtless, got some credit by 
their laboiu^, had already begun, unless the * Cyclic ' jx^ems, 
too, were patchwork, made for no conceivable purpose. 
Why did the anonymous patcher betake him to this industr>-, 
to making a long epic ? We hear of lack of * motive ' in 
parts of the poems ; the motive of the botcher is more sadly 
to seek. How his long work won acceptance in an age of 
lyrics and short * selections ' from epic song is another 
problem. Why did all Greece adopt it and regard it as 
inspired, and assign it to Homer? A literary tradition, 
once established, may conceivably blind us to the faults of a 
poem. But the Odyssey is not one of the works, like those 
of Pindar, or like many of the tragedies, which now depend 
chiefly on tradition and on the taste of the learned for their 
success. It is enjoyed by children and the unlettered, as 
well as by scholars. Its innumerable faults, its detestable 
and mechanical composition, had almost escaped notice till 
they were spied out by recent criticism, especially by 
Wilamowitz Moellendorff. 


The first book is, as we saw, by * the journeyman poet,' 
and is a fair sample of his manner. For example, in 
book i. Athene disguises herself as Mentes, a Taphian 
chief. In book ii. (older than book i.) she appears in the 
form of Mentor, an Ithacan, and a firiend of Odysseus. In 
answer to a prayer of Telemachus, she joins him in 
Mentor's guise, and he does not suspect her to be a 
goddess till she disappears as a sea eagle from the feast at 
Pylos. The name Mentes occurs as that of a Ciconian 
leader in the Iliad (xvii. 73). 

This resemblance of the names Mentes and Mentor, and 
the similarity of the parts played by the goddess under each 
name, are stumbling-blocks to the critic. Again, ii. 328, 
the wooers mock Telemachus, saying that he will go to 
Sparta, or Pylos, or fruitful Ephyra to fetch a poisonous 
drug wherewith to destroy them. Now, in i. 259, Athene, 
in guise of Mentor, tells how Odysseus once went to 
Ephyra to Ilus, Mermerus's son, in search of poison for his 
arrows. Ilus gave it not, from awe of the gods, but 
Mentes's father gave it. In the speech of the wooers, we 
must look on Ephyra as a * hypothetically named land ' ; 
in book i. it is a definite place with a king, Ilus. In the 
second book the fetching of the poison is a * base insinua- 
tion ' ; in the first book it is a matter of fact. * Can borrowing 
of book i. from book ii. be coarser or more palpable ? ' The 
Scholia mention three towns called Ephyra : i, the old name 
for Corinth ; 2, a city in Thesprotia ; and 3, one in EHs. 
Mr. Merry finds eleven cities so styled ; the choice here is 
between that in Thesprotia * and the city in Elis. If we 
knew where Taphos was we might determine which town 
Odysseus would touch at in returning to Ithaca from 
Ephyra. But we do not know. There are traditions of 
Agamede, daughter of an Elean king, as a sorceress, who 

' Iliad, vi. 152. Mr. Leafs note. 


knew all drugs that earth bears.* This would point to 
poison-bearing Ephyra as in Elis. But the scholiast says 
that Ilus, king of Ephyra, was great-grandson of Jason and 
Medea, and a king of Thesprotia. Thus the evidence in 
favour of Thesprotia and Elis is about equally balanced, 
and equally worthless, being probably invented by later 
upholders of one or the other site. But Wilamowitz 
Moellendorff (p. 25) decrees that Eph)Ta and her poisons 
are borrowed in book i. from book ii., and therefore the two 
books do not allude to the same Ephyra. In ii. the Elean 
city is meant as being near Sparta and Pylos, whither 
Telemachus is going. But the mention of Ilus shows that 
the patcher in book i. meant Ephyra in Thesprotia. The 
stupid botcher misunderstood book ii., and introduced in 
book i. a person, Ilus, a descendant of Medea, from the 
later Argonautic cycle. This makes the botcher late, and 
defines his home as that of a man interested in Thesprotia. 
He knows the western seas ; of Asia he knows nothing, 
but that is the country familiar to the earlier poet of the 

To us it seems plain enough that the genealog)' from 
Medea and the disputes about Ephyra are the work of 
persons later than the Odyssey, genealogists who wished to 
attach family pedigrees to Homeric origins. Arguments 
like those of Wilamowitz Moellendorff are infinitely more 
apt to excite suspicion than anything in the Odyssey. 
But by dint of such arguments both the badness of the 
botcher's work and his late date, as well as his geographical 
lx)sition, are to be determined. 

There are more charges against book i. In line 154 a 
herald hands the l)Te to Phemius, the minstrel. This 
proves that Phemius was blind, in the botcher's opinion. 
But (xxii. 331) Phemius catches hold of the lyre for him- 

' Iliad, xi. 741. 


self at the massacre of the wooers, when he appeals for 
mercy, or rather he has the lyre in his hands. His blind- 
ness is derived from Demodocus in viii. (the critic says 
in vii.) 261 by the stupid botcher. Was ever such an argu- 
ment ? It neither follows that a bard is blind because, after 
a feast, he lets a herald bring him his lyre, nor that he can 
see, because he has his lyre in his hands, when he needs it, 
to save his life, as a symbol of his profession. The chances 
are that he could see perfectly well. 

Next (i. 425), Telemachus has a bedroom * builded 
high in the fair court, with a wide prospect,* perhaps in 
a gate tower. Das ist der reinc Gallimathias, according 
to the critic, and is taken from xiv. 6, the court of 
Eumaeus. Why should it be ? We never saw an Homeric 
house, and know nothing of such a detail as this. Tele- 
machus (437) sits down on his bed, and takes off his 
chiton. But the chiton reached to his feet. How, then, 
could he take it off when sitting down ? The critic can try 
the experiment with his night-shirt ; he will be far from 
ingenious, if he does not solve the problem. But he de- 
cides that the botcher simply stole the line from Iliad 
ii. 42, where Agamemnon sits up in bed, and puts on his 

Penelope (i. 332-335) enters the hall to stop the song 
of the Return of the Achaeans. Two maids go with her \ 
she veils her face, and stands by the door-post. Borrowing 
again, and stupid borrowing ! She does the same thing in 
xviii. 208-211, but t/ierty out of coquetry, to charm the 
wooers. But there is no coquetry in i. 332-335 ; here, then, 
is imbecile theft. This is worthy of the other arguments. 
In book xviii. Eurycleia advises Penelope to wash and 
anoint herself, and charm the wooers. She does not take 
the advice ; but Athene gives her beauty. There is 


nothing coquettish in her conduct in book i. The passage 
is as clearly a formula as in ballads — 

Stately stepped he east the ha' 
And stately stepped he west. 

By these magnificently convincing arguments, with some 
from Kirchhoff, Wilamowitz Moellendorff demonstrates that 
the first book and the prologue, so much admired by 
Horace, are trash — and late trash, and trash from Western 

When was it ever heard of that the gods sent Hermes, 
as in the prologue, to warn a man from a deed of sin (i. 38)? 
Why should the gods care about -^gisthus ? This is just a 
stopgap, and serves as well as another. Well, as Clytae- 
mnestra was a daughter of Zeus, and as ^gisthus may have 
been generous in sacrifice, the gods might well be interested 
in their common affairs. But the critic finds it all as absurd 
as the poisoned arrows of Odysseus. * O le grand homme, 
rien ne lui peut plaire I ' Zeus gives a genealog)- of Poly- 
phemus in i. 71, 72, most necessary for the exposition of 
the story, because the hearer wants to know why Odysseus 
was persecuted, and the cause of the wrath of Poseidon. In 
ix. 412 the Cyclopes reveal to Odysseus, by their conversa- 
tion with the blinded giant, his name, and his relationship 
to Poseidon. W^hy should Homer bring that in, if it was 
he who, in book i., told us who the Cyclops was ? Mani- 
festly because, though we know from book i., Odysseus does 
not know, and has to be told. We are to decide that the 
passage in the prologue, being genealogical, is late, and 
out of keeping with the passage in book ix. This is to 
quarrel with the exposition of the poem, because it is an 
exposition. It does not serve for the poet to let the reader 
or hearer discover gradually what the hero gradually dis- 
covers. The reader or hearer needs to be put in possession 


of the essential facts from the first, and this is admirably 
managed in the prologue, the work of the botcher. 

Hesiod mentions Calypso in a catalogue of nymphs/ 
and derives her from Oceanus and Tethys. She is a 
nymph in i. 14, * the lady nymph Calypso, that fair 
goddess/ She is also (i. 52) daughter of Atlas. There- 
fore Hesiod knew book v., where Calypso is a nymph, not 
book vii. (245), where she is daughter of Atlas, nor book i. 
She is both a nymph and a goddess in book v. Does it 
follow that books i. and vii. are later than Hesiod (what- 
ever the date of the Theogony may be), because Hesiod, for 
genealogical purposes, adopts a different tradition ? Again, 
if the author of i. and vii. be later than Hesiod, why does 
he not accept Hesiod's genealogical version ? On this 
system, we may as well argue that the author of book i. is 
earlier than Hesiod, because he does not know Hesiod, 
as that Hesiod is earlier than the author of book i., because 
he ' does not know ' book i. 

The same pun is made in the name of Odysseus in i. 60 - 
62 and xix. 409: *das r irvfioXoytl, das a vapervfioXoyu,* 
Atlas, in relation to Calypso, is borrowed from the Heracles 
saga. The botcher's native land is determined, among 
other things, by his mention of going to Temesa for copper 
(i. 184). For Temesa 2 is in Bruttium ; hence, far to the 
west ; hence the botcher is a Western man. Temesa is 
usually taken to be Tamasus, or Tamassus, in Cyprus.^ 
The botcher knew the West ; Asia he did not know. The 
author of the Telemachia^ on the other hand, knew Asia, not 
the West, for he gives a fantastic geography of Pylos, as no- 
thing is said of crossing Taygetus, in the drive from Pylos to 
Sparta (iii. 470-497). If the Asiatic author of the Tele- 

' Theog, 359. 

- StralK), i. 6, 6, 255. 

* Cuprum (copper) - as Cyprium. Ameis. 



machia knew so little of Pylos, he was to blame, for the 
chiefs of Miletus and Colophon, in Asia, looked on Pylos 
as their original home. Pherae in Messenia (Kalamata) 
the borrower stole from Iliad v. 543, where there is a 
genealogy of Diocles. Why the botcher, when he was 
about stealing localities and genealogies, did not steal from 
Hesiod, in the matter of Calypso's parentage, as he was 
later than Hesiod, does not appear. 

For these reasons, and such as these, book i. is the 
work of a late incompetent cento-maker, residing in or 
near Corinth, or Euboea, while the Tckmachia^ a separate 
poem mangled by the botcher, is earlier, and was made in 
Asia Minor. By means of arguments hardly less ingenious 
and convincing, we are enabled to track the botcher through 
the rest of his nefarious industries. ' 

' The mere literar)' student cannot but sympathise with Rammer's 
spirited defence of the true poetic merit in much of book i. ^Einheit 
liir Odyssce^ p. 286). To say, like Kirchhoff, that the book, from 
8S to 444, * is scarcely more than a mere cento,' is to lay oneself open 
to refutation by any reader of ordinary feeling. 



Without pursuing here the analysis of the Odyssey, book 
l)y book, we may diverge to arguments by which Kirchhoff 
and others establish the late date of the epic in the only 
form in which we know it. Certain of the reasons for this 
opinion are given in Kirchhoff's second dissertation, at the 
close of the first twelve books. The second excursus of 
Kirchhoff may be said to take its rise from a curious pas- 
sage in book vii. The hero has been cast on the shore of 
Phaeacia, after his shipwreck as he sailed from Calypso's 
island. He has met Nausicaa, the daughter of the king ; 
she has clothed him, and he has entered the palace of 
Alcinous. He is first entertained by his hosts, and then, 
in accordance with Homeric manners, * the Phaeacian queen, 
Arete, asks Odysseus who he is, whence he comes, and who 
gave him the garments which he wears, and which she 
recognises (vii. 237-239). Now, the maiden Nausicaa had 
given them out of those which she had been washing, for 
Odysseus was cast naked on shore. The hero has some 
delicacy about mentioning this encounter, before he has 
won the favour of her parents. Now, if he merely answered 
the queen's first question, * Who are you and whence come 
you ? ' by saying ' I am Odysseus, Laertes's son,' doubtless 

' Compare Helen's inquiries of Telemachus, iv. 140. 

T 1 


the queen would be more than satisfied. But the poet 
would miss a much more striking moment for the avowal, 
which is only made after Odysseus has won great renown 
by his athletic skill, and great sympathy by his weeping 
when the minstrel recites a lay on the siege of Troy. At 
that moment (ix. 19), in the full and festive gathering of 
Phaeacians, with all eyes bent on the mighty and mysterious 
wanderer, he says, *I am Odysseus, Laertes's son.' The 
poet, we think, was justified in keeping his secret for that 
hour. Consequently, when Arete (vii. 237) asks him his 
name, and who gave him the garments, he merely says 
that it would be hard to tell all his woes, and simply de- 
scribes the isle Og}'gia, and his lonely residence there with 
Calypso, after his shipwreck (vii. 240-250). But, as the 
poem stands, after line 250, he repeats his statement 
about Calypso (vii. 251-258) in a sufficiently awkward 
manner. In most texts these lines are bracketed as spuri- 
ous. He then recites his misadventure with the raft, and 
acknowledges the kindness of Nausicaa. Alcinous promises 
him an escort home next day, and he goes to bed without 
answering the queen's question, *\\^ho are you, and 
whence ? ' 

This delay arouses the suspicions of Kirchhoff, who prints 
in smaller type as later, and not original, the lines vii. 243 
251 ; and again, the poem from vii. 297 to ix. 16, where 
Odysseus begins to tell his name. This passage includes 
the account of Nausicaa's kindness, as given by Odysseus 
to her father (book viii.), with the sports in Phaeacia and 
the athletic triumph of Odysseus, the lay about Ares and 
Aphrodite sung by Demodocus, the presents given to 
Odysseus, the touching farewell of Nausicaa—* Remember 
me in thine own land ; to me thou owest thy life's price ' — 
the later lay of Demodocus about Ilios, the tears of Od)'sseus 
as he listens, and thus the leading up to his avowal of his 


name. In small type, too, Kirchhoff prints (x.) the story of 
the Laestrygonians, by whose enmity Odysseus lost all but 
one of his ships, and the tale of Circe, till we reach book xi. 
and the adventure in Hades. 

All these passages are later, and not original. Kirch- 
hoff cannot reconcile himself to the delay in telling the 
name in book vii.^ This, he holds, is a fault in composi- 
tion, incident on a later forcing in of new material. The 
concealing of the name cannot be part of the original plan. 
There must be a gap in the text, the original poet cannot 
have composed the speech as it now stands. Then the 
doubling of the statement about Ogygia and Calypso (in 
vii. 250-259) is suspicious. There is a gap here, and Arist- 
archus ^ was for rejecting the passage. On the other hand, 
ancient critics praised the conduct of Odysseus, in first 
winning sympathy by the story of his wreck before intro- 
ducing Nausicaa, and in concealing his name, till he had 
gained renown among the Phseacians.^ The repetition 
about Calypso has been explained as a confusion of two 
texts.'* Kirchhoff, on the other hand, holds that a passage 
wherein Odysseus instantly revealed his name was removed 
by some redactor, for purposes of interpolation, and that 
confusion was caused by this means. The new poet's pur- 
pose required the concealment of the hero's name. 

When were all these changes made ? The greater part 
of X., xi., xii. — namely, the Lsestrygonian adventure, Circe, 
portions of the scenes in Hades, the Sirens, the Rocks 
Wandering, the eating of the cattle of the Sun, Scylla and 
Charybdis — can be dated by Kirchhoff. *The motive of 
this part of Odysseus's narrative betrays a close con- 
nection with the story of the Argonauts ' (p. 287). Thus 
Circe is a sister of -^2etes, the wizard king of the Argonaut 

' Kirchhoff, p. 278. * Scholia on vii. 251. * Scholia on vii. 244. 
* Friedlander ; Philologus^ iv. 588, ap. Kirchhoff. 


saga. The Rocks Wandering were only escaped previously 
by Jason's vessel, * Argo, that all men wot of/ as the poet 
specially remarks (xii. 70). In the Laestrygonia of the 
Odyssey is a spring, Artacia. There was such a spring at 
Cyzicus, and in Cyzicus the Argonauts met giants like the 
Laestrygonians. This Artacia is an historical spring ; 
Alcaeus mentioned it. * These Argonautic details, then, were 
by a late and arbitrary process foisted into the Odyssey, a 
poem of the Trojan cycle. Moreover, the passages must 
be later than knowledge of the fountain of Artacia, and 
the * localising ' of Argonautic adventures at Cyzicus, con- 
sequently, later than the Greek colonisation of Cyzicus. 
That is dated by some in the seventh, by others in the 
twenty-fourth Olympiad. Hence, Kirchhoff would not 
date our present Odyssey as it stands earlier than the 
thirtieth Olympiad. Indeed, it was known between 
Olympiads 30-48, when the chest of Cypselus was made, 
for that chest was adorned, among other works of art, with 
a representation of Odysseus asleep with Circe. ^ 

Now, no doubt, the Odyssey was known in the time of 
the making of the chest of Cypselus. But the arguments 
of Kirchhoff are singularly unconvincing. The incidents 
of the Argonautic legend are of extreme and universal 
antiquity as fairy tales and heroic legends. The chief of 
the plot of the saga is found in Samoa, North America, 
Russia, Finland, Scotland, Madagascar.** The Rocks Wan- 
dering are known to the iVztecs. The Sirens are familiar in 
the folk-lore of most peoples. Jason is mentioned in the 
Iliad in vii. 469, xxi. 41, xxiii. 747. The I^aestrygonian 
giants are placed on a fiord, in the land of the Midnight 
Sun ; they are clearly derived (as has been said) from vague 

* Apollonius Rhodius, i. 957, scholion. 

* Pausanias, v. 19. 7. The chest was probably earlier. 

* See * A Far-travelled Tale * in the author^s Custom and Myth. 


travellers' tales, borne along the Amber Route from the 
Baltic. They have no connection with Asia Minor. In 
brief, this part, like other parts of the Odyssey, connects 
with its hero a mass of primaeval fairy tales of dateless 
antiquity. The saga of the Argonauts also dealt with 
some of these, and with some other fairy tales, as of 
Phrixus and Helle, and especially with the widely diffused 
tale of the wanderer who achieves adventures by aid of the 
magician's daughter. Poems on these topics were known 
to the author of the Odyssey, but we do not possess the 
original lays of Argo which he knew. We have only the 
Alexandrine and late imitative epic of Apollonius Rhodius, 
and the legend in Pindar, and the so-called Orphic poem, 
and hints in Hesiod. Because Homer refers to Jason, and 
knows primitive legends used in the Argonautic cycle, it 
does not follow that the author of this piece of the 
Odyssey was using contemporary epics, and working after 
the localising of part of the Argo saga at Cyzicus. In 
Solon's time Mimnermus did not localise the home of the 
wizard king at Colchis, but placed it vaguely on * the brink 
of Ocean.' The fountain Artacia (from the isle Artace) has 
very little to do with the Argonaut saga. The Ljestrygonians 
have nothing to do with Cyzicus at all. The Asiatic coasts 
were known long before the Greek colonies were planted 
there. The adventure of the Argonauts at Cyzicus is quite 
a late piece of poetry.* In brief, so sweeping a theory of 
lateness in the Odyssey has rarely been based on such in- 
significant evidence. It is very much easier to believe that 
the poet for good artistic reasons delayed the eclaircissement 
of Odysseus, than that a later poet worked in a huge cantle 
for the purpose of plagiarising from an Argonautic poem, 
itself late. 

The peculiar subtlety by which Kirchhoff establishes 

* Niese, pp. 223-224. 


that parts of the poem once existed in an earlier shape, and 
that, as they now stand, they have been mechanically 
altered to fit a new purpose, may be illustrated from his 
third excursus. 

This is based on xii. 374-390. In these lines Odysseus 
tells how, after his comrades had eaten the cattle of 
Hyperion, Lampetie carried the news to the Sun, who 
threatened to leave heaven and shine among the dead. 
Zeus avenged him by striking the ship of Odysseus with 
a thunder-bolt, and the hero alone escaped. Of what 
passed in heaven he heard from Calypso, who had it from 
Hermes (xii. 390). The whole passage in the Venetian MS. 
is marked with the sign of doubt or rejection. The scho- 
liast has a note asking why the Sun, who sees all, should 
need intelligence brought by a messenger ? This is merely 
an example of that essential characteristic of mytholog}', 
inconsistency, and need not detain us. Then, how could 
Odysseus hear the tale from Calypso, and she from Hermes ? 
She had never met Hermes before, according to the scholion 
on V. 79, and when he visited her island to demand 
Odysseus's release, only recognised him *by a divine 
instinct.' This is not very evident ; a god can see a god, 
though he be invisible to mortals. Hence Athene's use of 
the Cap of Darkness in the Iliad. Calypso greets Hermes 
kindly as * dear,' and asks him why he comes now ; * before 
you did not come often ' (v. 87), which certainly does not 
imply that he never came at all, that she never saw him 
before. Odysseus has now been seven years with Calypso, 
since his wreck. Though Hermes rarely called, he may 
have come once in five years with some gossip from 
Olympus. The poet makes Odysseus give his authority 
for the scene in heaven, because mortals, not being inspired 
poets, are supposed not to know what passes in the highest 

THE hero's authorities 28 1 

These considerations seem childish ; there is no real 
difficulty in the matter. But Kirchhoff finds here signs of 
mechanical foisting of matter originally conceived for 
another purpose into the organic whole of the original 
Return. He thinks it very unpoetical in a poet to let 
Odysseus cite his Quelle^ his 'sources/ but the religious 
feeling of the epic makes it necessary. We saw in the 
Iliad how much trouble was caused to commentators when 
Agamemnon told a tale of what occurred in heaven about 
Heracles, without giving his authority (xix. 95). Kirchhoff 
so much resents the introduction of the story of Helios and 
Lampetie in this place, where it interrupts the action, that 
he regards it as part of a poem in which this adventure 
was originally told by the author, speaking of Odysseus in 
the third person. It had then to be amalgamated with the 
books in Miich Odysseus tells his own tale in the first 
person. 'Hie spirit and character of the older lay could 
not be kept up in the new transformation. The difficulties 
are not original nor the result of interpolation merely, but 
come of a mechanical attempt, by an incompetent hand, 
to dovetail an old poem, told in the third person, into 
a later poem where, in the first person, the hero recited his 
own adventures. Kirchhoff, indeed, goes so far as to 
reconstruct the original poem in the third person. Odysseus 
wakes with a smell of cooking about him, and cries to Zeus 
that his sleep has ruined him. So spoke he, and Lampetie 
went to Helios, the scene in heaven followed, and Odysseus 
went to the ship. Niese (p. 183) does not see that the 
passage is rendered less offensive by being told in the third 
person, and thinks that Kirchhoff lays too heavy a weight 
on his evidence. To consider as Kirchhoff does is to con- 
sider very curiously ; to found a whole theory of late * re- 
daction ' on such ideas of aesthetic propriety in narrative is 
audacious. The later the date, the more democratic the 

282 MOLY 

society, the more lyrical the trend of poetry, the less 
temptation there would be to expand an old epic. It could 
no longer be recited to a chief and his retainers on con- 
secutive winter evenings ; the fashion was in favour of 
cutting rhapsodies for recitation out of long epics, not of 
lengthening what was already long. 

There is more to the same purpose. How, in book x. 
277, did Odysseus know that the young man who gave him 
a magic herb in Circe's isle was Hermes ? A poet might 
know, as being inspired, but how could a hero ? Why, we 
answer, who but a god could it be ? No mortals were on 
the island. The herb is * hard to dig for men ; to gods all 
things are easy ' (x. 306). What man, in an island where 
there were none, could have done a feat so hard for 
mortals to do, and could have laid down the magic law of 
a root that constrains goddesses? No mere mortal could 
possibly have done all this, and the hero, not being a 
dullard, readily recognised Hermes. The * redactor,' in 
a moment of negligence, forgot to make Odysseus give his 
authority. Clearly his common sense was his authority. 
The poet is blamed where a character gives his authority, 
and also when he does not. Odysseus was a hero, not a 
commentator. Moreover, he learned later from Circe (x. 
331) that Hermes had foretold to her his coming, and the 
shrewdness for which Athene praises him enabled him to 
combine his information. Then it is to Kirchhoff a very 
suspicious circumstance that Odysseus knows the name 
of the Laestrygonian fountain, Artacia, where his men par- 
leyed with the Laestr)'gonian woman. A bard might know 
it, but how could a hero ? There are other criticisms of 
a similar weight and obviousness, which all tend to show 
that book x., much of xi., and xii. are late patchwork in 
their present form. But, even if we admit that they were 
once narrated by the poet, not the hero, the Odyssey never 


could have existed without the adventures which they con- 
tain. Without the Laestrygonians how can we get rid of 
the most of Odysseus's ships and companions? Without 
the cattle of the Sun how can we deprive him of the ship 
which was left, and of his remaining comrades ? Without 
Circe how is he to reach Hades and hear the essential 
prophecies ? It is necessary that he should arrive in Ithaca 
alone ; the plot and interest demand it. The end is achieved 
by the aid of books which, in their present or an older 
form, must always have belonged to the epic. 

As we are now concerned with these deathless ladies, 
Circe and Calypso, we may examine critical opinions as to 
their connection with the Odyssey. Wilamowitz * has prac- 
tically destroyed the authority of book i., where Athene 
tells us all about Calypso, how she is the daughter of the 
wizard Atlas, and dwells in an isle, the navel of the deep. 
What book i. and other books and passages wrought by the 
botcher say *is not evidence,' we can only get evidence 
about Calypso from book v. This only is genuine. The 
author of book v. practically created the part of Calypso, 
* The Concealer.' When he ceases, the Concealer falls back 
into concealment. Calypso is a creature of fiction^ artistic 
fiction ; Circe, the daughter of the Sun, is a child of real 
saga, ancient popular legend. Though the circumstances 
of the two ladies are very dissimilar, it is inconceivable that 
the two arc not essentially identical, that one of them is not 
modelled after the other. Now, Calypso, a thing of fiction^ 
is the later ; Circe the earlier. There was a time when 
legend knew of Odysseus's residence with Circe, but did 
not know of his stay with Calypso. Yet, astonishing as it 
seems, our Circe, in the poem as it stands, borrows from 
our Calypso, not our Calypso from our Circe. The process 
appears to be of this sort : — 

' Op. cit, 1 1 5- 1 29. 


1. Circe is known to saga. 

2. Calypso is based by an independent poet on Circe, 
in saga. 

3. That poet*s Calypso is followed by the poet who did 
the books on Circe in our extant Odyssey. 

These brilliant combinations are thus justified. In book 
xii. 312, Odysseus has landed, against his will, onThrinacia, 
where pasture the sacred cattle of the Sun. * And when it 
was the third watch of the night, and the stars had crossed 
the zenith, Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, roused against our 
company an angry wind, with wondrous tempest, and 
shrouded in clouds, land and sea alike, and from heaven sped 
dmvn the Night, ^ As it was night already, how could Night 
speed down from heaven ? We may answer that Night dwell- 
ing in heaven, draws nearer earth as it grows darker and 
denser, when the stars are obliterated by cloud. The 
passage, too, is a frequent formula, descriptive of storm. 
But Wilamowitz discerns that, when it is night already, night 
cannot speed down from heaven. Consequently, this 
passage in book xii. is borrowed, and idiotically borrowed, 
from some place where it had a proper meaning. Now, 
xii. 314, 315, is identical with ix. 67, 68, and we may com- 
pare V. 293, 294. Therefore, xii. is borrowed from those 
earlier passages. Book xii. here also contains a false 
i^^olicism, a sign of late date. This, and a comparison of 
the oaths exacted from Calypso in book v., and Circe, in 
book X., proves books x. and xii. to be borrowed from 
book v., where Calypso appears, and therefore * our ' Circe 
is later than, and modelled on ' our ' Calypso. Kirchhoff 
errs when he adopts the opposite view, that Circe herself is 
later than Calypso, and not an original figure of the saga, 
but a copy of Medea in the Argonautic legend. We 
possess Calypso in the original shape ; our Circe reaches us 
in a later than her original form. As Calypso, however, is 


a thing of fiction, not of saga, and had in the saga no place 
at first, it is plain that when Odysseus was wrecked, after the 
misdeeds in Thrinacia, he could not go to Calypso, but 
went straight to Phseacia. There was no Calypso's isle for 
him to go to, she was not yet in existence. In xix. 273- 
280, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, is telling a mixture 
of truth and falsehood to Penelope. There he omits 
Calypso, and says that Odysseus, after the wreck off 
Thrinacia, came to Phaeacia, * on the keel of the ship.* In 
the twenty-third book, however, recapitulating the story of 
his adventures to his wife, he speaks of Calypso. The whole 
tale of Calypso was thus originally a distinct poem, by no 
mean poet, and, later, it was thrust into its present place 
in the course of compilation and redaction and general 
botching. The piece is beautiful, but it is not Volkspoesie, 

None of the epic, to our mind, is Volkspoesie, So this 
distinction of Wilamowitz's does not appeal to us. 

He decides that Leucothea, the lady of the sea, who 
lends Odysseus her veil, is a figure of the Ionian Asiatic 
coast. She is daughter of Ino, daughter of Cadmus. Now, 
Cadmus is probably connected with Miletus. Miletus, 
according to Stephanus, was once called Calypso's isle, a 
statement possibly derived from Philo of Byblus. All this 
is very vague, but it is an example of the arguments in 
favour of the Ionic and Asiatic origin of much of the 

We have already examined another instance of this per- 
sistent endeavour to make the Odyssey late — the arguments 
of Kirchhoff founded on the mention of the fountain 
Artacia. Yet another effort is made by Kirchhoff. 

In a long excursus (iv.) based on two texts in the 
Odyssey, passages in Eustathius and a number of 
scholia and Hesiodic fragments, he attempts to bring the 
date of the completion of the poem down to the fiftieth 


Olympiad, and below the age of Eugammon of Cyrene, 
about 570 B.C. It is impossible to give a summary here of 
many very minute arguments and singular combinations. 
In Odyssey xvi. 118, to be brief, Eumaeus states a genea- 
logy of Odysseus's family, in which it was hereditary to 
have only one son. Arceisius begat Laertes, who begat 
Odysseus, who begat Telemachus, and Telemachus, says 
Eustathius, according to Hesiod, begat Perseptolis, by 
Polycaste, youngest daughter of Nestor. Now, she is only 
mentioned in the Odyssey in iii. 464, where she bathes 
Telemachus in accordance with Homeric custom. On this 
line some genealogist obviously based a theory of an illicit 
amour between Telemachus and the daughter of his host, 
the sister of his friend. It is perfectly plain that Hesiod 
is later than Homer, for he geographically localised the 
scenes of adventures which Homer placed in unknown 
seas.' Yet Kirchhoff argues that the so-called Hesiod did 
not know our Odyssey as it stands (vii. 54), for in that 
passage the King and Queen of Phaeacia are said to be 
derived from the same ancestors, 

4k 5c roH-fjogy 

ruy avrSav. 

Nausithoos begat Rhexenor and Alcinous, Arete was the 
daughter of Rhexenor, and Alcinous married her, his niece. 
Now, the scholiast on vii. 54 says that Hesiod, in a lost 
passage, supposed Alcinous and Arete to be brother and 
sister. Therefore, in KirchhoiTs theory, Hesiod did not 
know the genealogy by which Homer makes the pair uncle 
and niece. Of course, if the passage is later than Hesiod, be- 
cause he did not know it, it is just as easily maintained that 
the passage is earlier than Hesiod, because to the Odyssey 
Hesiod is unknown. But Kirchhoff argues that this part of 
the Odyssey did not exist when the Hesiodic genealog)- 
> Strabo, i 23. See Kirchhoff, p. 319. 


mentioned by the scholiast was constructed. We might also 
reply that the Hesiodic genealogist was careless and mis- 
understood the Homeric phrase * from the same parents,' or 
that he followed a tradition according to which Phaeacian 
marriages of brother and sister were permitted, as in 
Egypt, among the Incas, and on the isle of ^olusJ But, 
if the latest form of the Odyssey containing the genealogy 
of Alcinous be later than the scholiast's Hesiod, it is also, 
Kirchhoff reckons, later than the Greek colonisation of 
Cyrene in the thirty-seventh Olympiad, for Hesiod is 
said to have poetised the facts of that settlement. This 
will place the Hesiodic Eoce about the fiftieth Olympiad, 
and later than that must be the Odyssey as it stands. 
Further, Kirchhoff supplies from Hesiod hints of lo's 
wanderings in the far North and in Egypt. Now this 
expansion of the lo saga must, he thinks, be later than the 
opening of Egypt to the Greeks under Psammetichus. 
But, we answer, recent investigations go to prove that 
Greece had a very ancient and familiar acquaintance with 
Egypt, and thus we are not at all forced to conclude that 
Egyptian elements in old Greek myth are as late as 
Psammetichus and the thirtieth, or even fiftieth. Olympiad. 
Other arguments, based on the contradictory fragments of 
tradition or invention, about sons of Odysseus by Circe, 
Calypso, and other mistresses, are founded on the sand. 
The authorities concerning the amour of Telemachus 
with Nausicaa, whence sprang Perseptolis, about the sons 
of Odysseus by Circe and Calypso, and so forth, are incon- 
sistent with each other, and are puerile trash. It is mani- 
fest that the author of the Odyssey never dreamed of any 
such children. His hero says no farewell to them, never 
thinks of, never mentions them. In all this matter, down 
to the absurd Telegonia of Eugammon of Cyrene, in which 

* Odyssey, x. 7. 


one son of Odysseus marries his father's wife, and another 
son marries his father's mistress, we are obviously dealing 
with a familiar literary phenomenon, * the Cyclic mania.' 
Given a good and popular epic, later ages wish to continue 
it, to know what became of all the characters, to trace their 
descendants, to connect them with heroic genealogies. 
Hence arose in France the later chansons degeste^ based on the 
old original poems. The Greeks had the same manie cyc/ique, 
and they pursued the fortunes of Odysseus and his house 
till they landed in the absurdities of the TeUgonia, In the 
nature of things, and in the normal evolution of literature, all 
this work must be much later than the epics themselves. But 
Kirchhoff argues that the tasteless Eugammon was earlier 
than the Bearbeiter's conclusion of our Odyssey. For in the 
summary of his poem, the Tekgonia^ given by Proclus, he 
is said to start from the Burying of the Wooers. Now, some 
of them are reported in our Odyssey to have been buried 
(xxiv. 417), therefore Eugammon did not know our Odyssey ; 
had he known it, he would not have described the burial of 
the wooers, a thing already done. We are arguing in the dark, 
as we have not Eugammon's work, but it is likely that, instead 
of merely saying, * the wooers were buried,' as the Odyssey 
does, he drew a full picture of their obsequies on the model 
of the funeral of Patroclus. The Tekgonia^ in fact, as Mr. 
Monro says, reveals the wish to find a place for the genea- 
logies of various families that claimed descent from Odysseus, 
whom Eugammon therefore obliged to marry a Thesprotian 
queen, Callidice. This does not demonstrate it to be later 
than our form of the Odyssey, but it does prove it to be 
animated by motives which, to our form of the Odyssey, 
are utterly unknown.^ The Kirchhoffian argument — that 
because Eugammon is reported to have described the 
burial of the wooers, while in our Odyssey the burial of 

' /. H. S. 1SS4. 



some, not all of them, is incidentally mentioned, not 
described, therefore Eugammon did not know our Odyssey, 
which thus is later than his date — proves nothing but 
KirchhofTs vehement desire to make the Odyssey a late 
poem at any hazard. The critical temptation to bring down 
the date of any work of art is almost as prevalent as the 
common antiquarian desire to thrust back the date into 
remote ages. 




The purpose of Wilamowitz Moellendorff and other modern 
critics is to disengage the various elements of the Odyssey 
as it stands. But are there really elements of various dates, 
and by various authors ? Wilamowitz causes the whole 
edifice to fall to pieces, first by withdrawing the exposition 
(book i.) — which he blames because it is an exposition — and 
then by striking out the ju/fc/ura; because they arejunc/unr. 
Ever)' long poem has necessarily this cement or mortar and 
junction of plot. The critic gets rid of it (p. 66), and then 
asks us to mark how the stones fall in ruin, when * den Kitt 
schlagen wir weg'— when we knock away the mortar. But 
even if the epic be by one early hand, it will still contain 
mortar, still possess yi/wr/i/n?, and, when these are removed, 
the structure will perish, just as it perishes if the cement 
picked out be modem. For example, if we take J/armion, 
we find the mortar to be highly suspicious. We are intro- 
duced to Marmion— a noble, brave, and open-handed knight 
— going on a king's errand into Scotland. He is guided by 
a palmer from the Holy Land, a man of i)allid cheek and 
wasted form. This palmer the knight does not recognise, 
though within the last three years they have met as rivals 
for a lady's hand, and as mortal enemies. We are not told 
that either age or Athene had transformed the palmer. He 


had not been out of his enemy's ken for twenty years, as 
Odysseus had been out of his wife's. Yet he is never sus- 
pected by Marmion. As they travel, the knight hears a 
legend of an elfin warrior who haunts a neighbouring plain. 
He rides out to encounter him, and is overthrown— by the 
wan and wasted palmer, who takes the place of the 
spectre ! Now, not long before, in a trial of battle, 
Marmion had vanquished this man, when in full health 
and vigour. The statement of the palmer's success, when 
wasted to a shadow, over an enemy who had defeated him 
when in perfect health, is absurd, and clearly unworthy of 
the original Dichter. Finally, Marmion is proved to be a 
forger, who had placed false letters among the palmer's 
papers, that he might ruin his rival, and win the hand of 
the lady. Who enabled him thus to secure his marriage ? 
Why, his own jealous mistress, a girl of furious passions, 
who carried and inserted the forged letters, all that she 
might lose her lover, and win for him his bride ! This is 
clearly a mere tissue of contradictions, interpolations, and 
Flick-Poesie, A brave and generous man does not stoop to 
forger}'. A jealous mistress does not forward her lover's 
marriage. A man who is a mere shadow of himself cannot 
overthrow in battle a knight who had easily conquered him 
when in full vigour. Yet, if we pick out this cement of the 
plot, regarding it as work of a late and incompetent botcher, 
Marmion falls to pieces, and no longer exists, except as a 
mass of lays (one of them spurious) and episodes. In the 
same way, when the removal of the cement leaves the 
Odyssey in ruins, it does not follow that the cement is 
the modern addition of a late builder. 

We have seen some of the arguments by dint of which 
Wilamowitz gels rid of the exposition of the Odyssey of 
book i. We may now examine his success in picking out 
its cement from the whole edifice. 

u 2 


The eighteenth book is (disregarding the episode of 
Penelope) a consistent fragment of old and original poetry. 
Book xvii. was composed to lead up to book xix., and knit 
it up with \y\n. Book xx. contains a bad imitation of 
book xviii. In book xix. the first fifty verses, in which 
Odysseus and Telemachus hide the weapons that hung in 
the hall, is a stopgap, and, in book xx., another stopgap 
runs firom line 122 to line 384. It serves to unite xix. with 
xxi. and xxii. In this passage Odysseus promises the neat- 
herd that he shall see the wooers slain instantly, and 
Theoclymenus, in a famous piece, beholds the shroud, 
ominous of death, around their bodies. These lines are by 
the botcher. 

Among proofs of these discoveries of stopgaps and 
patches we find that Melantho, the insolent maid (xix. 65), 
reviles Odysseus again. This shows connection with xviii., 
where she had already insulted him. Penelope rebukes 
Melantho, * Thy great sin is not hidden from me, and thy 
blood shall be on thy head for the same For thou knewest 
right well that I was minded to ask the stranger in my halls 
for tidings of my lord.' 

This refers to xvii. 528, where Penelope sent for the 
beggar, who was Odysseus in disguise. * But this is not 
original ' (p. 50). 

The reference of Penelope, Wilamowitz thinks, is, not to 
Melantho's present rudeness, but to her revealing the secret 
of the unwoven web (xix. 154), and to her ambur with 
Eurymachus (xviii. 325). This is clearly a case of * working 
over,' and re-touching, the reference to book xvii., and to 
Penelope's sending for Odysseus there, l^ing dragged in. 
All this, then,Js the work of the author of book xvii. Xo 
doubt, it is, as the author of book xvii. is the author of all, 
or nearly all, the Odyssey, in our opinion. Penelope means 
that Melantho's insolence is of a piece with all her conduct. 


Odysseus now tells Penelope a feigned tale. He gives himself 
out for a Cretan, who had seen the hero in Crete, on his way 
to Troy. He himself has been in Thesprotia, where he heard 
that Odysseus had been wrecked in Phaeacia. The hero is 
now paying visits and receiving presents ; he is also con- 
sulting the oracle at Dodona as to whether he should return 
secretly or openly. * In this same year shall Odysseus come 
hither, as the old moon wanes and the new is born.* 
Penelope disbelieves him, but offers hospitality. He says 
he would like some loyal old wife to wash his feet, not one 
of the insolent maids.* Odysseus now sat aloof from the 
hearth where Penelope was, and, as the old Eurycleia poured 
out water, it misgave him that she would remember and 
recognise a scar on his thigh, made by a boar's tusk in his 
youth. He therefore turned away his face into the shadow, 
but she did know the scar, and he only stopped her 
joyful exclamation by nearly throttling her (xix. 385-502). 

In all this fable told by the hero, Kirchhoff and Niese 
see proofs that Odysseus, in an original saga, went to 
Scheria after his ship was wrecked and his comrades lost, 
with no tarrying for seven years in Calypso's isle. It is 
plain that, if this really was so in the original, the whole 
character of Telemachus must be omitted. He is a very 
young man in the poem as it stands — say twenty-one — 
Odysseus having been absent twenty years. If there is no 
stay of seven years in Calypso's isle, Telemachus would be 
but fourteen on the hero's return. Now, the wooers did 
not begin their misconduct till three years, or four years, 
before Odysseus's return, as the poem stands. Therefore, 
if there were no detention in Calypso's isle, we have no 
Telemachus, who would be only a boy, and, probably, no 

' In the wanderings of Prince Charies in disguise, a Highland 
maid, who had washed his companion, declined to do so for him : 
' Why should she wash a Lowland body ? * she asked. 


wooers. The references to Thesprotia in Odysseus's feigned 
tale testify, it is urged, to a fonn of the poem in which 
he actually did tarry in Thesprotia, a form employed by 
Eugammon. Kirchhoff thinks the gathering of gifts a 
* pitiful ' late invention ; it really was part of Homeric 
manners. It is decided that xiv., where Odysseus tells a 
feigned tale, is borrowed from xix. The assumption that 
all repeated lines and all similar passages are * borrowed,' 
and that a German can tell which of them is the earlier and 
original, which the late copy, grows tedious. 

To come to higher things. Odysseus, Wilamowitz argues, 
tells Penelope in veiled language that he is already here, as 
he is to come *when the old moon wanes and the new is bom,* 
that is, on Apollo's festival, which is held next day (xix. 
305-6). She disbelieves, * she does not understand, and he 
thinks of another plan ' {Horn. UnUrsuch. 54), and selects 
Eur>'cleia to wash his feet, as she will know the scar and will 
reveal him. To be sure, as the poem stands, he is most 
anxious not to be revealed, and (xix. 390) he suddenly remem- 
bers the danger of her recognising the scar. All this is the 
result, we are to believe, of editing and compilation. In the 
original, Odysseus meant to be recognised, it was part of his 
plan, and he actually was recognised in the original, accord- 
ing to Wilamowitz. Therefore book xix., after 476, is part 
of the botcher's work, according to the inspired Wilamowitz 
Moellendorff, for here Odysseus nearly strangles Eur)^cleia, 
and threatens her with death if she announces her discover}\ 
He asked her to wash him, in the hypothetical original, ex- 
pressly that she might recognise him. As the poem stands, 
he spoke in hatred of the insolent maids, who must not touch 
his body, and he forgot all about the scar. But here starts 
up a fresh difficulty, with a fresh discover)'. In book xiii. 
430, when Odysseus had landed in Ithaca, Athene disguised 
him so that he might not be recognised. * She touched him 


with her wand : his fair flesh she withered on his supple limbs, 
and made waste his yellow hair from off his head, and over 
all his limbs she cast the skin of an old man, and dimmed 
his two eyes, erewhile so fair, and changed his raiment to 
a vile wrap and a doublet * (xiii. 430-435). 

Now, on this passage in book xiii. hangs a library of 
German criticism. In xiii. Odysseus is transformed by 
Athene. In xix., where Eurycleia washes him, he is fiot 
transformed, because he still has his old scar that he won 
in his youth. Therefore book xix., where he has the scar, 
is not by the poets of xiii,, xvi., where he is transformed. 
As Kirchhoff puts it, the person who laboured to make a 
whole out of the action of the first and second halves of the 
Odyssey, and invented books xiii. and xvi. (the places where 
the magical transformation occurs) borrowed an old account 
of the scene of recognition in book xxiii., without noticing 
the contradiction between that and his own invention. He 
clung so loosely to his own motive that he quite forgot to 
retransform the hero into his proper shape at the end of his 
work. He forgot nothing of the kind : see book xxiii. 156, 
157, where Athene restores and embellishes the hero. But 
then this passage is an interpolation even later than the 
work of the Bearbciter ! ^ 

This is a very convenient way of arguing, but it does 
not avail. 

By aid of this wonderful * criterion,' the transformation 
or lack of transformation of Odysseus, Kirchhoff and 
Wilamowitz and others are enabled to tatter the later books 
and ascribe them to different authors and redactors. 

This kind of criticism is called * ingenious ' even by 
writers who disagree with the conclusions drawn. To us 
the ingenuity seems perverted. We are never told by Homer 
that Athene turned Odysseus into a different man, with 

' Kirchhoff, pp. 531, 539. 


different tissues. She aged him merely ; she * withered 
the fair flesh on his supple limbs ' ; she produced the effects 
of many years — temporarily and for a given purpose. It is 
not as when, in fairy tales, a witch or wizard transforms 
a person into an animal. Even then, the wound inflicted 
on the woman changed into a hare or a bird (as in Scotch 
tales, and tales of North American races collected by 
LaflUiu, the old missionary) reappears on the reassumed 
body of the human being. Naturally, then, a scar on 
a fair limb remains a scar on the same limb when withered 
either by age or magic. We all know thai the scar of a 
wound received in childhood remains marked till old age 
withers and death seizes a man. Now, as Athene merely 
aged Odysseus in outward seeming, necessarily the scar 
stayed where it was, and we have not to do with a difference 
of authorship, demonstrated by the persistence of the scar, 
after the so-called * transformation.' Yet, even if the trans- 
formation had been radical and complete — say, into the 
shape of a beast — according to popular belief, the only 
evidence attainable, the scar would still mark the new body. 
But a great part of Kirchhoff"s and of Wilamowitz's criti- 
cism turns on their inability or unwillingness to understand 
a plain statement. This is their * ingenuity.' ' Kirchhoff 
displays his in the first excursus to the second half of the 
Odyssey (p. 538). To Kirchhoff it seems that magic and 
transformation come late into fable, that natural causes are 
allowed to work in earlier poetr)-. 'i'hus Odysseus, in the 

' The change from youth, or middle age rather, to eld, is made 
again in book xvi. : that Odysseus may reveal himself to Telemachus, 
Athene restores his appearance, and Telemachus exclaims that only a 
god could make a man young or old at will. Before the swine-herd 
returns to the pair, Athene makes Odysseus * an old man again ' 
(xvi. 457), * lest the swine-herd should know him.' Finally, she 
restores his beauty (xxiii. 157), after the massacre of the wooers, and 
before the recognition by Penelope. 


old story, was rendered unrecognisable by age and trouble, 
in the later poem by art magic. To say this is to reverse 
the order of the development of fancy, and to prove Tom 
Jones earlier in order of evolution than the oldest Mdrcheju 

According to Kirchhoff, the old story persists where 
Eurycleia recognises the scar, and in book xxiv. (usually re- 
garded as very late), where T^ertes doubts whether Odysseus 
be indeed his son, and Odysseus demonstrates his identity 
by the proof of the scar, and by mentioning circumstances 
only known to himself and I^ertes. As has been said, the 
scar would persist, though by magic Odysseus were alter- 
nately made young and old, man and beast. Yet Kirchhoff 
detects two wholly separate currents in the second half of 
the Odyssey — one early, in which years and wars have 
naturally changed Odysseus ; one late, in which Athene 
has magically transformed him. This is the higher criticism. 
Here is * the invaluable criterium.^ 

To return to Wilamowitz. Niese, he finds, agrees that 
Penelope did recognise Odysseus after the scene of the scar, 
when Odysseus, as Wilamowitz holds, meant to be recog- 
nised. But Niese thinks that this originally ended all ; the 
wooers went quietly home— ihey did not try to cut the 
throat of the lonely Odysseus. He let them go home ; he 
did not revenge their insults to his house. There was no 
bloodshed. But Wilamowitz cannot go to these lengths. 
Niese believes that there was originally no Telemachus. 
Wilamowitz (p. 56) very learnedly proves from Greek laws 
of inheritance that there must have been a Telemachus. 
* Suppose there is no Telemachus, what becomes of the 
heritage of Odysseus ? ' A childless wife is not heir to her 
lord's possessions. * An Odyssey without a Telemachus is 

Moreover, * recognitions,* it is said, are *a fine moral 
motive, and relatively late.' Massacres and revenges are 


relatively early. The * moral tragedy is younger than the 
mythical tragedy.' The massacre of the wooers, not the 
recognition, is the real end and aim. 

As a matter of fact, the widespread popular tale of the 
* Returned Husband * does end with the recognition, hut it 
is only one of the many Miirchen which make up the stuff 
of the Odyssey, and we do not know how early the sla)ing 
of the wooers became an element of the legend on which 
the poet worked. Wilamowitz insists, and rightly, that in 
the epic the wooers cannot be allowed to slink home in 
safety ; for them the ends of death, the shafts of sorrow are 
prepared. Thus, * even Shadwell deviates into sense,' and 
Wilamowitz maintains that Niese's Odyssey is *a mere 
parody of Homer.' 

He next determines that, after Penelope recognised 
Odysseus by the scar (as he sup{X)ses she did), she and the 
hero arranged the affair of the trial of the bow, and the 
massacre. Proof of this he finds in xxiv. 167, where one 
of the slain wooers in Hades says that Odysseus, in his 
cunning, made Penelope offer the trial of the bow. This 
is a mere inference on the part of the ghost, who knows 
nothing of the matter.^ 

The criticism advances on the familiar lines. As the 
poem stands, Penelope has not observed the scene of the 
foot-washing. All the passage which tells how Odysseus got 
the wound from the boars tusk is omitted bv the critic. 
When Penelope awakes from her apathy, she speaks of her 
sorrows, compares her heart to the heart of the nightingale, 
daughter of Pandareus, debates whether she shall relieve 
Telemachus by marrying, tells a dream about her geese, 
and asks for the interpretation. Odysseus interprets it of 
the death of the wooers. Penelope says some dreams are 

' A late and corrupt talc in Hyginus(i26) is supposed by Wila- 
mowitz to confirm his opinion. 


true, through the gate of horn, some false, through the 
ivory gate. To-morrow she will choose the man who can 
draw and shoot with the bow of Odysseus. The beggar 
says that Odysseus will return before the wooers can string 
the bow. Penelope goes to bed. All this (476-604) is 
Flick- Foe sie. Then (xx.) Odysseus lies down in the outer 
gallery. Seeing the maids come out, he is moved to slay 
them, but bids his heart endure, as it endured in the 
Cyclops' cave. Athene encourages him by promise of her 
aid. He sleeps. Penelope wakens, wishes the winds 
could carry her away, like the daughters of Pandareus. 
She has dreamed that her lord lay beside her. Odysseus 
wakes, hears her weeping, prays for an omen. It is given 
by the voice of the old woman grinding at the mill, who 
prays that the wooers * may now sup their last.* Clearly 
Odysseus must hence learn that this is their latest supper — 
this the day of vengeance. Telemachus arises, the house 
is swept, the swine-herd brings hogs, the goat-herd insults 
Odysseus, the neat-herd welcomes the beggar. Odysseus 
promises that this is the day of revenge. * While thou art 
still in this place Odysseus shall come home, and thou 
shalt see the slaying of the wooers ' (xx. 232, 233). The 
wooers enter. Telemachus purposely calls Odysseus up to 
sit beside him by the threshold of stone, in the inmost 
part of the hall. Ctesippus throws an ox's foot at Odysseus. 
Telemachus chides him. The second-sighted man arises ; 
he sees the shroud swathed about the wooers' heads, a sign 
of instant death. He flies from the hall (xx. 356). The 
wooers are * fey,' and laugh with alien lips. Their last, 
least gracious meal is placed before them. 

To all this passage it is objected that Penelope's speech 
about the nightingale is perverted and interpolated. Her 
dream about the geese (which greatly resembles many 
dreams in the Icelandic sagas, the interpretation also being 


familiar in the sagas) has a parallel in an ominous fact in 
XV. 1 60, where an eagle steals a goose of Helen's, in Sparta. 
The poet here has imitated and spoiled that scejie in the 
Tekmachia, Penelope then says she will set forth the bow 
and the trial of the bow, and wed the winner. Therefore 
the encouragements of the beggar have had no effect on her. 

This, we reply, is natural ; it has often been stated that 
she is utterly incredulous of Odysseus's return, and heed- 
less of the encouragements offered by wanderers. She 
likes the beggar, but does not believe him ; her hope is 
broken. The usual charges of repetition in details, and 
therefore of borrowing, are made. A great blot is that 
Odysseus * does not know,' in book xx., that the day has 
come for him to slay the wooers, nor that the axes are to 
be exhibited, and the trial of the bow proclaimed. There is 
nothing in this. We have quoted the passages where, 
answered by the omen of the woman's prayer, Odysseus 
tells the neat-herd that the wooers are instantly to die. 
His faith only needed divine confirmation, which it received 
in thunder from heaven and the voice of the woman. The 
botcher, we are told, destroyed the recognition by Penelope 
where it originally stood in xix. 476, that he might bring in 
the insult of Ctesippus, the second-sight of Theoclymenus, 
and so forth. He also composed xv. 31-165, where Theocly- 
menus is introduced to the house. We could pardon him a 
great deal — even book i. — for the sake of the soothsaying of 
Theoclymenus. And thus the cement is picked out, and 
the botcher is exposed in his naked hideousness, and bits of 
* old poetry ' (the pieces which Wilamowitz happens to 
prefer) are rescued from the general ruin of the epic. 

This discover}' of old lays, or ballads, interwoven by one 
or other of the many compilers who had hands in stitching 
together the Odyssey, is a fascinating task. Let us examine 
a portion of Kirchho fTs work, in which he recognises, but 


does not profess to be able to disengage, an old ballad 
now blended in the account of the Slaying of the Wooers 
(xvi. -xxii.). In the sixteenth book, when Odysseus has 
been recognised by his son, and when they are planning 
the massacre of the wooers, the following passage occurs. 
Odysseus bids his son go home, he himself will follow in 
disguise, the wooers will shamefully handle him. Tele- 
machus must endure this spectacle ; they will not listen to 
his remonstrances, for the day of their doom is at hand. 
Then comes this remark : * Yet another thing will I tell 
thee, and do thou ponder it in thy heart. When Athene, 
of deep counsel, shall put it into my heart, I will nod to 
thee with my head, and do thou note it, and carry away all 
thy weapons of war that lie in the halls, and lay them down 
every one in the secret place of the lofty chamber.^ ^ 

' And when,' the hero goes on, * the wooers miss them 
and ask thee concerning them, thou shalt beguile them with 
soft words saying : " Out of the smoke have I laid them by, 
since they are no longer like those that Odysseus left behind 
him of old when he went to Troy, but they arc wholly 
marred, so mightily hath passed on them the vapour of fire. 
Moreover, Cronion hath put into my heart this other and 
greater care, that perchance when ye are heated with wine, 
ye may set a quarrel you between, and wound one the other 
and thereby shame the feast and the wooing, for iron of itself 
draws a man thereto." But for us twain alone leave two 
swords and two spears and t^^o shields of oxhide to grasp, 
that we may rush upon the arms and seize them ' (xvi. 280 - 

Nothing can be clearer than the purport of this advice. 
In Homeric halls, as in those of heroic Iceland, weapons 
were arranged, probably in trophies, along the wall. Odysseus 

• 4i ui'X^v wi|»t;A.ou daXdfiou — obviously the chief's strong room. 
Similar chambers occur in Icelandic sagas. 


means to act as Grettir did in the Grettis saga, when a house 
in which he was living alone, as a guest, with some women, 
was entered by twelve robbers. He persuaded the robbers 

* with soft words,* to let him put their damp weapons in a 
dry place, he then intoxicated them, led them into the 
treasure chamber, locked them in, and slew them when they 
forced their way out weaponless, having armed himself 
with a spear that hung over the bed of his host Thorfinn. 
In the same way Odysseus will remove the arms from the 
hall, so that the wooers may have no spears, but only their 
swords, when the fight begins. Late on the following day, 
when the wooers have departed to their own houses, 
Odysseus remains alone in the hall with Telemachus 
devising the slaying of the wooers. He says : — 

* Telemachus, we must needs lay within the weapons of 
war, ever)' one : and when the wooers miss them and ask 
thee concerning them thou shalt beguile them with soft 
words,' repeating the exact speech which he had suggested in 
book xvi. But here he says nothing about leaving two 
shields and spears and two swords for themselves. Nor 
does he specify the exact spot, ' the secret place of the lofty 
chamber,' where the weapons are to be carried, he only says 

* within' (xix. 4-13). Telemachus now bids Eurjdeia con- 
fine the maids in their rooms, till he has laid by the wea{X)ns 
in the armoury (OnXafis as in xvi.), for he fears they may 
rust in the hall, thus giving to Eurycleia the first part of the 
excuse prepared by Odysseus for the wooers in case of need. 
Eurycleia praises his thrift, and asks who is to light him on 
the way, if not the maids ? He replies that the stranger 
will light him. Eur)^cleia withdraws. Odysseus and his 
son carr)' the weapons * within,' and Pallas Athene magi 
cally lights them on the way. In universal belief, from the 
creed of the Eskimo to English and Norse |X)pular super- 
stition, the presence of the supernatural is attended by 


an unearthly light.* As Odysseus says in answer to Tele- 
machus, * This is the wont of the gods that hold Olympus.' 
Odysseus remains in the hall, Telemachus goes to his 
chamber * by the light of the flaming torches/ whether he 
bore them himself, or whether the maids were now per- 
mitted to accompany him, as the work was done. 

We now pass to book xxii. Odysseus has achieved the 
adventure of the bow, has leaped on the high threshold, 
and has shot Antinous. *Then the wooers raised a 
clamour through the halls when they saw the man fallen, 
and they leaped from their high seats, as men stirred by 
fear, all through the hall, peering everywhere along the 
well-builded walls, and nowhere was there a shield or mighty 
sword to lay hold on' (xxii. 21-25). Consequently they 
are obliged to set on with tables for shields, and using the 
swords they happen to be wearing. Telemachus has a 
spear, however, for (xxii. 92) he slays with it Amphinomus. 
But he dares not pluck the spear from the body, so he 
proposes to go to the chamber {OaXoLfw^ as in xvi.) 
where his weapons were lying (xxii. 109) and fetch shields, 
spears, and helmets for himself, his father, the neat-herd, 
and the swine-herd. This he does (xxii. no- 125), ac- 
cidentally leaving the chamber door open ; his party arm 
themselves, and Odysseus, having emptied his quiver, grasps 
two lances. 

In all this the reader perceives that Odysseus has not 
exactly carried out the plan he sketched in book xvi. He 
has not reserved spears (or not more than one apparently), 
swords, and shields for himself and Telemachus. The 
wooers have asked no questions about the removal of the 
weapons because they never noticed the removal, being 

' Compare Rink's Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo^ \i. 61, with 
note in the Lay of the Last Minstrel to the ballad of Rosal>eIle ; and 
Theocritus, Idyll of Heracles and the Serpents (xxiv.). 


engaged with the bow, till the need for arms arose. The 
armour)' (duXufioi) is mentioned in xvi. ; in xix. Od>*sseus 
only says that the weapons must be carried * within.' These 
are very weighty considerations ! Be it also remarked that, 
as Telemachus forgot to lock the door of the chamber, when 
he brought out the shields and spears, Melanthius is enabled 
to reach it by some passage not well understood, and to 
bring arms for the wooers. He goes to the strong chamber, 

* for methinks it is in that room and nowhere other that 
Odysseus and his renowned son laid by the arms.' 

To all this part of the tale Kirchhoff devotes an excursus 
of thirty-seven closely printed pages. He decides, on the 
ground of discrepancies, borrowed lines, and so forth, that 

* the scene in book xvi. is the original work of the composer 
of this last part of the poem ; the narrative in book xxii. 
(the battle with the wooers) belongs in essentials to the 
statement of some older ballad, which cannot, however, 
now be restored in its original shape/ That undertaking 
would be fruitless. Probably — as we have not a shred of 
evidence about the nature of detached heroic (ireek lays 
or ballads. Finally, the author of xvi. 3-52 (the removal of 
the arms by Odysseus and his son) is not the maker of the 
present connection of the poem. 

These are very wide and very minute conclusions to 
draw from the evidence before us. The evidence gives us 
a sketch of an excellent and necessary plan, which, except 
in one small detail, is carried out as far as it is \Wthin the 
power of Odysseus and Telemachus. They cannot make 
the wooers ask the question, the answer to which, if it is 
asked, they have prepared. It was not necessary for 
Odysseus, as he had proposed, to signal Telemachus by a 
nod ; he had a chance of speaking openly to him. Croiset ' 
avers that in xvi. 287 Odysseus contemplates removing the 

• His/, de la Lit, Grecqtu^ i. 313, note. 


arms before the eyes of the wooers. His words, * when the 
wooers miss them,' indicate the opposite. They apparently 
did not reserve shields for themselves : 

The best laid plans o' men and mice 
Gang aft ajce. 

But if this were so great a blunder, the redactor, or 
Bearbeitery or Flick-Poet, might easily have corrected it. 

The removal of the weapons (xix. 3-52) is denied to be 
original or genuine. What has Pallas Athene to do there 
with her light ? The father and son might very well have 
carried their own candles. The purpose of the goddess, we 
reply, with Kammer, was to encourage the hero by her 
presence. Moreover, xvi. 282-294 (Odysseus's advice 
about hiding the arms and excusing their absence) is clearly 
connected with and dependent on xix. 4-12. The repeated 
passage, Kirchhoff holds, is by some one who knew the 
original ; not necessarily can the converse be stated. In 
this case, the original passage is the earlier in occurrence — 
namely, that in book xvi. The second passage (xix. 10) 

'Kph% V iti KoX r6Zt fi€7(ov iy\ tpptaiy IftjSoAc HcdficoVt 

whereas, in xvi. 291, we read 

BrJKf Kpoyiotv. 

The first passage runs, *Cronion hath put it in my 
heart,' the second passage has, * some god hath put 
it in my heart.' Now e^ifSaXt inifnay is unusual, 
OiJKe Kporitji' is customary. The former is vague, 
the latter is definite. Therefore the lines in xix. 
are expressly altered from their model in xvi., and 
are later and by a different hand. Why all this should 
follow, it is not' easy for a puzzled reader to understand. 
Nor are we more persuaded by the remarkable fact that, 
in xix., Odysseus says, *put the weapons ze^/M/w,' and, in 



xvi., *put the weapons in the secret place of the lofty 
chamber.' Where else but in the strong chamber could he 
safely or naturally bestow them? As he had mentioned 
the special place the day before, it is not necessary for him 
to repeat that the strong chamber is the best hiding- hole. 
So obviously is it the best hiding-place that Melanthius 
(xxii. 140) at once guesses that Odysseus has deposited the 
weapons there. But this very guess is a stumbling-block 
to Kirchhoff. How could Melanthius possibly know where 
the weapons were, and how they had disappeared? If 
he knew, why did he not earlier warn his friends ? Of 
course, he only made a necessary inference from the fact 
that the weapons had vanished. A number of grammatical 
objections are urged against the unlucky xix. 3-52 ; these 
we leave to grammarians. The use of the microscope is 
now pushed very far. If the weapons were newly stored 
in the chamber where Penelope kept the bow, the sight of 
them would startie her ver}- much when she opened the 
chamber (xxi. 8). Of course we know nothing of the size 
or structure of the chamber or of the opportunities for 
concealment within it, while Penelope, intent on something 
else, need not have noticed a few shields and spears more 
or less. This kind of examination would prove ever)' novel 
that ever was written to come from various hands. To 
take the first convenient example— but let me spare the 
emotions of a friend ! Enough that, in a novel where the 
plot turns on the colour of the heroine's hair, the author 
forgets what that colour is. The author has made a slip, 
that is all ; there are not two hands at work. But Homer 
really makes no slip where Penelope does not excite herself 
about the presence of weapons more or less in a place 
full of all kinds of gear. The * subtlety ' of Kirchhoff is 
childishly meticulous. We know little about the arrange- 


ments of an Homeric thalamos^ or store- chamber. In 
xvi. 285 Odysseus proposes to put the weapons 

*in the secret place of the lofty chamber.' In xxii. 180 
that is the very place where the treacherous goat-herd hunts 
for the arms, 

* m the secret place of the chamber.' This,- again, as far as 
we can discern, is the very * chamber in the uttermost part 
of the house ' (xxi. 8) whence Penelope brings the bow. Pene- 
lope opened the door by shooting back the bolts (ox^"?"? ^* 
47). But, when Telemachus brought the gear for Odysseus 
during the fight (xxii. 155), as we saw, he unluckily left the 
door open. Thus, as he says (xxii. 1 54), it was by his fault 
alone that Melanthius got at the weapons. As far as we 
can understand, there is but one fka/amos, where the 
weapons were placed after being removed from ^he hall, 
and where the bow was also kept. There is thus no con- 
fusion in the narrative, unless we are to suppose that 
Penelope would have been startled by seeing the newly- 
introduced arms in the thalamos^ and would therefore have 
unconsciously betrayed the whole plot. Such a subtlety is 
puerile. Audacity as well as subtlety is necessary to 
Kirchhoff 's ideas. Audacity he displays, by removing the 
lines in xxii. (24, 25), where the wooers look round the hall 
and miss the weapons, as an interpolation (p. 583). Here 
the wooers are startled, though they think the shot acci- 
dental, and carry swords. But the Beggar had a Bow ! 
Even line 141 in xxii. must go. Here Melanthius says 
during the fight, * Let me bring you armour from the inner 
chamber, that ye may l)e clothed in hauberks, for methinks 

it is in that room and no other [that Odysseus and his 

x 2 


renowned son laid by the arms]. The line in brackets (xxii. 
141) must be an interpolation (spdter eingeflickt^ p. 586). 
The reference to the whole affair in the twenty-fourth book 
(165, 166) does not concern us much if that part be indeed 
very late and spurious, as the Alexandrine critics supposed. 
In that book the ghost of Amphimedon is telling the stor}* 
to the ghosts of the heroes of the Trojan war. He says that 
Odysseus had endured much contumely in his own halls, but 
finally, * when the spirit of Zeus urged him, by the help of 
Telemachus, he took up all the goodly weapons and laid them 
by in the inner chamber, and drew the bolts.' These are the 

* bolts ' which Penelope undid when she went for the bow, and 
which Telemachus forgot to close when he fetched out arms 
for Odysseus, himself, and the two thralls, thereby letting in 
Melanthius. The ghost is telling his story by dint of infer- 
ence. He is sometimes right, sometimes wrong ; his con- 
dition of mind is matter for the Society of Psychical Research. 
UTiat the ghost said is not evidence. 

Kirchhoff has thus had the good fortune and skill to dis- 
cover a separate ballad, a piece oifreie Dichtung^ an addition 
by a Bearbeiter, and some interpolations, where one sees 
nothing but plain sailing. He does not expect to convince 

* Unitarians,' friends of the unity of the epic ; and, indeed, 
we are not convinced. Unitarians, if they acknowledge the 
facts (which Kirchhoff greatly misdoubts), will attempt to 
get rid of the contradictions in question by averring that 
Odysseus can modify his plan if he likes, or forget it, or not 
find time for it. And, again, they will say that we must 
judge Homer by Homeric aesthetic, not by ours, and so 
forth. But, in truth, we do not particularly trust Kirchhoff 
as an authority on the rules of fictitious composition, either 
in modem or ancient art. Thte stor)% as it stands in the 
Odyssey, is excellently told, and has as much consistency as 
is desirable. Odysseus sketched a plan : that plan he 


executed, with a single slip — namely, in neglecting to keep 
defensive and offensive armour enough for himself, his son, 
and the two thralls, of whose assistance he was not certain 
when, in book xvi., the plan was conceived. Meanwhile, 
his oversight is artistically justified, for it makes room for 
the final treachery, the catching, and the exemplary 
punishment of Melanthius, the traitor. These could 
not have been arranged if Odysseus had, as he in- 
tended, kept back armour enough, or if Telemachus had 
been careful to close the door of the chamber. Were 
we critics who excise, we could dismiss xvi. 295-298, 
where Odysseus says that they must keep arms for them- 
selves, as an obvious interpolation. But we do not excise 
lines merely because they are inconvenient to our theory. 
On the whole, then, * Unitarians ' need not abandon the 
unity of the poem, as far as these passages are concerned, in 
favour of several different poets, an old ballad, a Bearbeiter^ 
a still later interpolator, and the other subtle and ingenious 
discoveries of Kirchhoff. Again, if it be urged that the 
strength of his case depends essentially * on the cumulative 
force of a great number of subtle observations,' we must say 
that, if this, that, and the other subtle observation be 
worthless, the sum of these observations has no cumula- 
tive weight or force at all. The subtle observation about 
the shape-shifting of Odysseus, and the contradiction in- 
volved in the presence of his scar, was not valid ; not valid, 
we think, are the remarks on the removal of the weapons ; 
and so on in the case of the others. No number of cyphers 
make up a sum, by themselves. For example, the arguments 
against book xi., the scenes in Hades, are far from cogent. 

The close of xi., from 565 to 627, the accounts of Minos, 
judge of the souls, and of punishments endured by men 
violent against the gods, the description, too, of the Shadow 
of Heracles, were doubted by the ancient critics, and are 


now spoken of as a late Orphic interpolation. Passing by 
this question for the present, it is to be noted that Wila- 
mowitz detects in the earlier part of the Nekyia a patchwork 
of different dates, stitched together, and partly composed 
by some one who inserted the canto between books x. 
and xii. Traces of the process of patching are detected in 
the * intermezzo ' — that is, in xi. 333-384. Here Odysseus, 
after speaking of the dead heroines whom he beheld, breaks 
off, saying that it is time for sleep, whether he is to lie 
down on board ship or in the palace. This is a natural 
remark in a guest who may fear, or think proper to affect 
to fear, that he is telling too long a story. His hosts re- 
assure him, offer him presents, and ask him what he saw 
in Hades of those who fell in the Trojan war. Wilamowitz 
looks on the * intermezzo ' as the work of the compiler who 
* put together ' all the adjacent books. His analysis 
endeavours to show that, in an older form of the poem, 
Circe gave Odysseus no command to descend into Hell, 
but at the close of book x. (where the directions for the 
journey to Hades now occur) merely uttered the warnings 
about the Sirens, Thrinacia, and Scylla, which at present 
occur in the opening of book xii. In that book the hero 
does not return to Circe*s house after coming out of Hades, 
but his men sleep by the sea shore, and the goddess and he 
meet apart (xii. 33). For some reason this arrangement is 
not satisfactor)' to the critic. 

It is an Unschicklichkeit ; why so, one is at a loss to con- 
ceive. One may even imagine that * men over-bold * who 
have been among the dead are no fit guests for a god- 
dess. As usual, formulae in xi., for instance 636-638, are 
said to be 'borrowed' from ix. 177-179. The story of 
Elpenor, his death by accident in Circe's house, the ap- 
pearance of his shade, his desire of a mound, with a pillar 
to cover his body, is declared to be an * etiological ' 


addition. Somewhere there actually existed such a mound 
(as many mounds there be), some one wished to explain it, 
and connect it with the adventures of Odysseus : therefore 
the Elpenor episode was introduced. The compiler is the 
author of this part. The compiler has also added to the 
speech of Tiresias (an older fragment) the warning about 
the cattle of the Sun (xi. 104- 113) borrowed from book xii. 
Tiresias's prophecy about the wooers (xi. 11 3- 120) is in- 
tolerable in this place, for the shadow of Odysseus*s mother 
knows nothing of the wooers. She must have died, we 
answer, before they drew to a head ; she does not know what 
she did not see, but Tiresias, even in Hades, remains a 
soothsayer (x. 493). As the story stands, Odysseus has 
only been two or three years on the seas, since Ilios fell. 
He has still to dwell seven or eight years with Calypso. The 
wooers have not begun their suit, they only began it four 
years before Odysseus actually returned to Ithaca. Thus 
Anticleia's shade cannot know what has not occurred, but 
Tiresias, as a prophet, knows what will happen. It seems 
odd that Telemachus, a lad of twelve, dines out so much 
(xi. 186), but this may not have been odd in Homeric 
society. In Tiresias's prophecy lines xi. 114, 115 are 

* borrowed ' from the prayer of the Cyclops (ix. 534-535), 

* late may he come, in evil case, with loss of all his com- 
pany, in the ship of strangers, and find sorrows in his house,' 
to which Tiresias adds, * proud men that devour thy Hving,' 
which is an offence to Wilaniowitz.* To our minds the 
repetition in the prophecy of the very words of the prayer 
is only a regular part of Homer's poetical technique. Ac- 
cording to the critic, the compiler adds the prophecy to 
prepare for and lead up to the massacre of the wooers. 
When Old Mortality was first published, * clever people ' 
(as Lady Louisa Stewart told Scott) detected in it the work 

' Die Epexegese ivhpjs zu iffifiara ist recht ungeschickty p. 145. 


of several hands, and it is easy to see how Wilamowitz 
would have disengaged, and assigned to a compiler, the 
successive omens and prophecies in the Bride of Lammer- 
moory and * Wandering Willie's Tale ' in Redgauntkt, 

Three portions of the Nekyia^ the interview with Anticleia 
and Tiresias, the * Catalogue of Women,' the meeting with the 
heroes of the Trojan war, make up most of book xi., when * 
Elpenor and the conclusion are withdrawn. As to the 
Catalogue of Women (225-333), it appears to us to be one 
of the most magical passages in Homer. A great charm 
of the old Cymric tales (the Mabinogion) lies in hints that 
half illumine the dark unknown backward of tradition, 
references to old adventures now forgotten by men, the 
lady made of flowers, the dirk whereon no handle would 
remain fast, and so on. A similar charm is cast on us by 
Odysseus's glimpses of the famed unhappy brides of the 
Immortils : Tyro, who loved Enipeus, * fairest of the floods 
that run on earth,' Phaedra, and Procris, and beautiful 
Ariadne. These were among the mortal ancestresses who, in 
the embraces of the gods, became mothers of heroic houses 
of Achaia. Each declared her lineage, and told her tale of 
sorrow *wild with all regret.' He who writes has been 
haunted from childhood by these shapes and voices of the 
Grecian ladies, and this may be the experience of many 
readers. But Wilamowitz denies the originality of the 
whole passage. This ' Catalogue of Women ' is not to be 
considered apart from catalogues of women in ancient 
Greek poetr)' in general. Some such catalogues were 
attributed by the ancients to Hesiod : except for a few 
fragments, these are lost. Such a Catalogue was the 
Hesiodic Eoid^ and, of the two, EoicB and Nekyia^ the 
originality here, according to the critic, is on the side of 
* Hesiod,' not of * Homer.' In our catalogue, Leda comes 
in as mother of the Dioscuri, not of Helen. Now, in the 


Cyclic poem, the Cypria (770 B.C.?), Nemesis, not Leda, is 
mother of Helen : therefore our catalogue refers to the 
Cypria, That poem made Nestor tell long tales of Antiope, 
Epicaste, Alcmene, Megara, all named here. Therefore we 
must not say that the Cypria and the Nekyia use the same 
legends, nor that the Cypria borrows from the Nekyia ; 
we must decide that the Nekyia borrows from the Cypria} 
Now it is almost waste of time to deduce arguments from 
poems like the Cypria and the Little Iliady which we happen 
not to possess. It really seems arbitrary also to dismiss all 
passages where Attic heroes or heroines are named — for 
example, xi. 325 — as Athenian interpolations. If the 
Athenians ever had an opportunity of interpolating Homer's 
text, they would probably have done so to more purpose. 
The least unscientific plan, on the whole, is not to argue with- 
out materials. As the Cypria^ the Little Iliad, the Nostoi, and 
other Cyclic poems are lost, as only a battered and brief 
prose summary of their contents remains, it is well to suspend 
our opinion as to whether their authors borrowed from 
the Nekyia, or the Nekyia from them, or whether both 
the Cyclics and the Nekyia draw from common sources in 

Turning to the interviews with Agamemnon, Achilles, 
and Aias in Hades, Wilamowitz decides that they are by an- 
other hand, because these ghosts speak without tasting the 
blood. In xi. 390 they do taste the blood, but Wilamowitz 
rejects the reading which contradicts his private theory, 

fyy» V tiX^^ ifi,h KUVOSf iirtl irtty oUfxa KfKcuv6tff 

* he knew me so soon as he had drunk the blood,' in favour 
of the variant, 

* so soon as he saw me.* ^ This seems arbitrary enough, 

' I/om, Untersuch. p. 1 49. 

* See chapter on * The Lost Epics.' * See Schol. on Od. xi. 390. 


but the best defence of the originality of this passage is its 
beauty, its * grand style.' The words so worthy of Achilles, 
who would rather be thrall of a landless man than monarch 
of all the dead, are among the immortal passages of 
literature. On Wilamowitz's hypothesis, they are by * the 
author of the Telemachia,' It is easy for him to believe 
that many poets might possess this faultless sublimity of 
matter and manner. Again, the legends in these in- 
terviews, about Neoptolemus, the Trojan Horse, Eriphyle, 
the contest for the arms of Achilles, and so on, occurred 
in the Cyclic poems, and are not alluded to in the Iliad. 
It is a commonplace of the Higher Criticism that whatever 
Homer does not mention is unknown to Homer. Applying 
this system to Shakspeare, we find that Shakspeare was 
unacquainted with the use of tobacco ! The Cyclic poems 
know the legends ; the Iliad does not allude to them : there- 
fore Homer did not know them : therefore the scenes with 
Achilles and Agamemnon in the Nekyia are manufactured 
after the Cyclic poems. The account of his own death 
which Agamemnon gives (xi. 415 450) includes mention of 
Cassandra and of Cassandra's slaying by Clytasmnestra. 
The tale of Agamemnon's death is hinted at by Zeus in 
book i., told by Nestor (iii.), and more fully by Menelaus 
(iv.). Finally Agamemnon, in this place, gives more details, 
including the slaughter of Cassandra and the cruelty of 
Clyta^mnestra. Herein Wilamowitz recognises the matter of 
later legends than those in books iv. and v. The Revenge 
of Orestes on his own mother is thus made necessar)-, 
though as at the very least she was always an accessor)* 
before and after the fact, he probably had to avenge his 
father on his mother in any case. In iii. 310 (in the so- 
called Telemachid) we find already that Orestes made a 
funeral feast * over his hateful mother and over the craven 
.-Egisthus.' Yet, as to this revenge by Orestes, Wilamowitz 

NEK VIA 315 

(p. 156) says *the Tehmachia knows nothing of it' So, 
to meet Wilamowitz*s needs, line 310 in book iii. muss 
fort — must get out. How is it possible to argue with a critic 
who rejects every line which he finds inconvenient to his 
theory ? If a fact be not mentioned in a given place, that 
is proof of the accuracy of his hypothesis ; if it be mentioned, 
it is an interpolation. This is too manifestly the familiar 
game of * Heads, I win ; tails, you lose ! ' By such methods 
the account of Agamemnon's death in the Nekyia is brought 
down to the period of the Pindaric and Stesichorean 
legends. On the whole, the scene with Anticleia and part 
of the scene with Tiresias are old, the rest of the Nekyia is 
by diverse hands, in diverse ages, all blended and partly 
composed by the compiler. The warning of Tiresias, that 
Odysseus must propitiate Poseidon by wandering till he 
reaches men who know not salt, and by sacrificing there, 
perhaps refers to an overland journey in Epirus. The 
Arcadians, as their coins show, thought that Arcadia was 
the scene of this adventure. Here we move in mere mist of 
later conjecture. But the strength of Wilamowitz's argu- 
ments against the originality of the Nekyia as a whole 
may be appreciated by the reader. They turn on the 
interpretation of recurrent poetic formulae as traces of 
dovetailing ; on arbitrary decisions, based on lost, and to 
us unknown, poems ; on wilful excision of inconvenient 
lines as interpolations * smuggled in * ; and on misconcep- 
tion of the plot and story, as in the matter of Anticleia, 
Tiresias, and the revenge on the wooers. 



The ancient Alexandrian critics, as we have already said, 
held that the original Odyssey ended with xxiii. 296. The 
later scholia to the Odyssey are extremely meagre, and we 
do not know the reasons which Aristophanes and Arist- 
archus assigned for their huge excision. The passages 
rejected in xxiii. contain a brief recapitulation of the whole 
story as narrated by Odysseus to his wife. Athene has 
delayed the Dawn, xxiii. 242, that they may have time for 
happiness and for the tale. When Odysseus has well slept, 
she arouses the Dawn, and it is childish in commentators to 
apply * time-tests * where a miracle is concerned. Odysseus 
and Telemachus waken. The hero bids his wife wait 
quietly in the upper chamber and see no man, while he and 
Telemachus, concealed by Athene in a cloud, go forth to the 
farm of his father, I^ertes. The retirement of I^ertes had 
already been described by Anticleia's ghost, in book xi. 192. 
In book xxiv. Hermes conducts the ghosts of the wooers to 
Hades. Two objections are urged. Hermes appears for 
the first time in Homer as Psychopompus^ guide of spirits. 
Next, the entrance to Hades is not like that in book xi. ; 
they pass the ^^^lite Rock, the Gates of the Sun, the People 
of Dreams. We do not know, of course, whether the func- 
tion of Hermes is really a noveltv : Homer has had no 


previous occasion to describe it. As to the path to Hades, 
that taken by the wooers, as we said before, may have been 
the usual way of souls. In book xi. Odysseus ¥cpnt, as a 
h'ving man, by another route. In Hades the heroes are 
conversing. Agamemnon congratulates Achilles on the 
manner of his death and burial. * The Nereids came forth 
from the waters, and all the nine Muses, one to the other 
replying with sweet voices, began the dirge.' The golden 
urn provided by Thetis for the hero's ashes was the * gift of 
Dionysus.' It is urged that the Muses were not known as 
Nine till the arts had been differentiated and classified. 
But the ninefold division may be due to the number of the 
Muses. Dionysus, who gave the urn, is always an object of 
suspicion as a recent god. The whole passage, in any case, is 
of the rarest beauty : * Hom^re a esquiss^ en traits sublimes 
ce que furent ces funerailles, ce qu'elles durent ^tre ; la fin de 
rOdys^e rdpond ainsi k la pens^e meme de I'lliade, et y Con- 
corde par un effet plein de grandeur,' says Sainte-Beuve.* 

Literary merit does not, perhaps, prove genuineness, 
but we may set Sainte-Beuve's approval against that of 
those who denounce * the wretched conclusion of the poem.' 
Once more, the shades of the wooers, though their bodies 
are unburied, consort with the heroic souls ; whereas, in 
book xi., the shadow of the unburied Elpenor was held 
aloof by the ghosts. Here is a discrepancy, but all theories 
of the state of the dead are full of similar contradictions. 
The shades of the wooers tell their story to the heroes, and 
Amphimedon says that Odysseus had arranged the trial of 
the b6w with his wife. This is merely an erroneous infer- 
ence of the ghost's, though much is made of it by the 
critics who believe that, when Odysseus's feet were washed, 
Penelope recognised him in the older versions." On this 

' Etude sur Quintus Smymaus, p. 385, a sequel to the Etude sur 
Virgile, « Wilamowitz, Horn, Unters, p. 59 


theory xxiv. holds by an older version than xix., and we 
have only to marvel that the Bearbdter or botcher or 
redactor ^d not reconcile his statements. 

Odysseus and Telemachus reach the farm of Laertes, 
who is tended by an old Sicilian woman (xxiv. 211). The 
hero, in a false tale to his father, says that he himself came 
from Sicania (xxiv. 307). This proves that the geography 
here tallies with that of book i., if Temesa be the Metapon- 
tine town, as Wilamowitz argues. Finally, Odysseus shows 
his scar, and, in a charming scene full of reminiscences of 
his childhood, reveals himself to his father. The old man 
naturally dreads the blood feud for the slain wooers— the 
chief anxiety, as is inevitable, of die later books. They eat 
meat ; the kindred of the slain muster in Ithaca ; the dead 
are buried, or sent to their island homes. Eupeithes urges 
the duty of revenge. Medon and the minstrel come forth 
from the palace ; critics wonder that they had slept so 
long ! Medon tells how a god, in semblance of Mentor, 
had helped Odysseus. As it is decided that this event was 
* silly,' the reference to it is a device of the compiler. 
Halitherses, the prophet of book ii., says, * Ye obeyed nie 
not,^ and advises a policy of peace. Eupeithes leads the 
others on ; there is a last brief council of the gods (xxiv. 
479, cf. V. 23, 24). Zeus bids Athene reconcile the foes. 
After a brief conflict, in which old Laertes slays his man, 
Eui>eithes, Zeus casts a thunderbolt, and Athene, in guise 
of Mentor, * sets a covenant between them with sacrifice.' 

Except by a Dea ex machina^ this feud, according to 
heroic manners, could in no wise be reconciled. Some of 
the suspicious i)oints have been noted, separately they are 
of little moment, their cumulative weight may be more 
important. Kirchhoff" thinks (p. 532) that the whole con- 
clusion was added by his Bearbeiter to satisfy curiosity. 
But the more ancient the date, the more secure the old 


law of blood-feud, the more anxious would curiosity be. 
Whether the piece, as it stands, is by the original poet or 
not, we can hardly conceive that he could have left the 
story unfinished, and the feud unstaunched. Kirchhoff 
regards the piece as the wilful invention of the composer, 
with no traditional foundation. Wilamowitz, however, points 
out that the affair of I^ertes is prepared for throughout by 
constant references to the old hero — for example, at the 
close of book iv., xiv. 173, xv. 353, xvi. i35-i53> ^x. 4i-43» 
xxiii. 1 17-152. He thinks, therefore, that book xxiv., though 
late, is earlier than book i. and the general patching of the 
Odyssey into its present form (p. 71). The author of the 
conclusion is a compiler and a late poet, but even his late 
work has been tinkered over by the Bearbdter, He it was 
who, finding the I^ertes episode ready to his hand, worked 
in references to Laertes in the passages already enumerated, 
so as to give coherence to his patchwork. He has 
blundered by a combination of poems in some of which 
Odysseus is not, while in others he is, magically transformed 
(p. 79). We have said enough already about this mare's- 
nest of the transformation. The conclusion is decided to 
be a poem of the seventh century, probably composed in 
Eubcea or Corinth (p. 81). The recognition scene (xxiii. 
240) is inserted from an older poem, whereof it formed the 
conclusion (p. 85). 

We have now examined a few specimens of the argu- 
ments by which the Odyssey is dislocated, and have 
attempted to show that they possess little cogency. But it 
must be allowed that the matter does not admit of de- 
monstration, and that, in the final result, the whole ques- 
tion resolves itself into one of literary taste. For if we say, 
with Comparetti, that * the organic unity, the harmony, the 
relation of all the parts, their co-ordination, their leadmg up 
to a predetermined conclusion, attest homogeneity and con- 


sonance of p)oetic creation, and that all this can scarcely be 
the work of different poets at diflferent dates,' we have still 
to deal with critics who do not recognise the unity, the 
marshalling of incidents towards a given end.* We have to 
do with critics who find, in place of unity, patchwork and 
compilation, and evident traces of diverse dates and 
diverse places of composition. Thus argument is inefficient, 
demonstration is impossible, and the final judge must be 
the opinion of the most trustworthy hterary critics and of 
literary tradition. These are unanimous, as against the 
* microscope-men,* in favour of the unity of the Odyssey. 
There may be — nay, there must be — accidents of time, 
which beget lacunae and interpolations, but these it is diffi- 
cult to detect with any certainty. The conclusion of 
book xi. is dubious : it exhibits a more moral, perhaps a 
later, theor)' of future rewards and punishments. If this be 
Orphic, a work of the time of Onomacritus, it is curious 
that the Orphicism is not more distinct and strenuous. 
Again, the opening of book v. is weak, but who ever heard 
of a long poem, however certainly from one hand, in which 
there were no weak passages ? The objections to the con- 
clusion (xxiii., xxiv.) have been stated, and they are not 
inconsiderable, but it may l)e doubted whether they are 
strong enough to invalidate the genuine character of the 
passage. At the junctions of two threads of the story, in 
iv. 620 and xv. 295-301, are signs of dislocation. But 
whatever difficulties beset the belief in a long, continuous, 
admirably planned epic, the work of a single hand in a 
remote age, they are, at least, less manifold than those 
which meet us when a critic professes to detect in the 
Odyssey an old short epic, a continuation of that epic made 
up out of ballads, a dislocation of that continuation for the 
purpose of inserting a headless and tailless TeUmachia^ and 

' Comparetti, Der Kalcivala^ p. 326. 


a working over of the whole mass by an incompetent hand, 
whose motive for his industry is sadly to seek, as are the 
reasons which induced Greece to accept the late patchwork 
for the genuine work of Homer. Before we can begin to 
think of accepting this theory, we must submit ancient 
work, not to the laws of modern literary criticism, and of 
Alexandrine criticism, which is essentially modem also, but 
to such tests as scarce any work of fiction could endure. 
Where is the novel, where the poem, without discrepancies, 
and where is the sense of explaining most discrepancies by 
a theory of multiplex authorship ? 

It was easy for coxcombs to vanquish Berkeley with a 
sneer, and it is true that parody is no argument. But 
parody may, at least, supply an illustration. Let us con- 
ceive that the historical facts about the origin and author- 
ship of Ivanhoe are unknown. The romance falls into the 
hands of a critic, and this is how he treats it. 

The germ, or kernel, of the so-called Ivanhoe is 
manifestly an early English mediaeval version of the 
Odysseus saga. This the critic will illustrate by the curious 
mediaeval Irish version of the Odyssey.* In the original, 
Ivanhoe was not the lover of Rowena, but the husband, re- 
turned from long wanderings in the East. Jerusalem has 
taken the place of Ilios. Rowena was not the mistress of 
Ivanhoe, but the faithful wife, like Penelope. In Gurth, the 
loyal swine-herd, we recognise Eumseus ; Gurth's dog. 
Fang, is an echo of Argus. Rowena is beset by wooers, De 
Bracy, the Templar, Front de Bceuf. In the original, 
Ivanhoe, aided by Gurth, destroys them, in a fight in his 
own hall. 

This is the kernel. In a later age the chivalric spirit 
made Rowena the lady-love, not the wife of Ivanhoe, and 
moved the slaughter of the wooers from the hall of the 

' Afef-ugud Ulix Maicc Leirtis, edited by Kuno Meyer. Null, 1886. 



hero, to that of Front de Bceuf. Locksley (Robin Hood) 
was introduced under Ekiward III. ; historically he was a 
character of the reign of Edward II. This interpolation is 
to be attributed to a poet of the school of Piers Plowman, 
probably a Nottingham man. Later a doubUtte of the 
original motive, a poem on the NostoSy or Return of the 
Wandering Richard Coeur de Lion, was amalgamated with 
the Nostos of Ivanhoe. Hence the anachronism, by which 
(in our Ivanhoe) Robin Hood is made a contemporary- of 
Richard I. Still later, probably at the end of the nineteenth 
century, when the sufferings of the Jews in Russia were 
notorious, the group of Rebecca and Isaac of York was 
interwoven with the old poem and its continuation. A 
late Bearbeiter worked over the whole, introducing the absurd 
episode of the resurrection of Athelstane. Traces of old liedcr 
are conspicuous ; above all is manifest the Death-song of 
Ulrica. This is addressed to Teutonic and Slavonic gods, 
Woden and Zcrnibock, and is probably a composite thing, 
the English element being earlier than the English invasion; 
for the Slavonic element it is no longer possible to account. 
This theory of Ivanhoe has really almost as much basis 
and plausibility as some points in the modem analysis and 
dislocation of the Odyssey. 



There is no doubt that ancient Greece possessed, in ad- 
dition to the Iliad and the Odyssey, many other old epic 
poems. Concerning these we have to ask, how far do they, 
or rather how far does the very little which we know about 
them, illustrate the Homeric question in general ? The 
lost epics dealt with a large number of topics, but here 
we are mainly concerned with those about the Trojan War, 
and the heroes who fought under Troy. It is certain that 
Herodotus, Plato, and Aristotle were acquainted with various 
old epics which dealt with the earlier part of the war, and 
with what followed the death of Hector, the last agony of 
Ilios. Though the dates of these poems, as we shall see, 
are uncertain, they were, at least, very old. Now, is it likely 
that such epics as the poem called Cypria^ or that other 
called IHou Persis (* The Fall of Ilios ') or The Little 
Iliad, were composite things, botched up arrangements of 
still older epics and ballads, strung together, interpolated, 
and ^ redacted,' as criticism supposes the Iliad and the 
Odyssey to be ? In a word, were all the old epics of Greece 
such mere patchwork as the Iliad and Odyssey are said to 
be, and, if so, in what possible circumstances could it be 
worth the while of men, living in an age when there were 
scarce any reading public, to labour at stitching, botching, 
and * redacting ' ? 

Y 2 


Unfortunately, our knowledge of the lost epics is ex- 
tremely slender. Several proofs may be adduced to show 
that they were not of the same literary value, had not the 
same hold of the public, as the Iliad and the Odyssey. It 
may also be proved that they contained records of customs 
which Homer never mentions, though he often had occasion 
to mention them, and that they abounded in a kind of 
myths which the taste of Homer severely rejected. For 
these reasons it may be presumed that the lost epics were 
later than the Iliad and Odyssey in their present form. 
For, if the view is correct which regards these two epics as 
things of slow evolution, it is improbable that their later 
continuators could have avoided introducing the customs 
familiar to the lost epics and the kind of myths in which 
the authors of the lost epics take delight. Perhaps this 
conclusion — namely, that the lost epics are distinctly later 
than the Iliad and Odyssey, and belong to a different age 
and stratum of custom and of myth — is almost the only solid 
ground which we can reach, and even this is disputed. 

Our knowledge of the perished poems is derived from 
sources of several kinds, and the earlier authorities, un- 
luckily, are much the more scanty. The lost epics are 
quoted and referred to by such authors as Herodotus, Plato, 
and Aristotle, but these citations are very scanty compared 
with their citations of the Iliad and Odyssey. In the 
central age of classical literature the two great epics were 
already far more familiar, far more esteemed, than the epics 
which have disappeared. Again, writers of the first and 
second centuries after our era speak of and occasionally 
cite the lost epics : such writers are the literary and anti- 
quarian authors, like Pausanias and Athenaeus. Next we 
have citations by the scholiasts or annotators of the elder 
classics. Of these annotators the dates, of course, are 
various. We have also the evidence of gems and vases, 


and the plays composed by the great tragedians on sub- 
jects in the lost epics, but many of these plays have 
perished. Finally, we possess fragments of a treatise on 
the lost epics, as far as they were represented in a com- 
pilation called (in late times) 'The Epic Cycle/ This 
treatise is attributed to one Proclus, possibly the tutor of 
the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Only fragments, 
as we said, remain of a work which was * a kind of primer 
or resume of Greek literature.^ ^ Proclus lived, as we do 
in an age of * primers ' and literary short cuts. Our posi- 
tion, therefore, is like that of the critic of the future, if 
concerning Chaucer he knows no more than he finds in 
a few shreds of a primer of English literature and in a 
dozen brief quotations in notes to Shakespeare. Manifestly 
on such information it is not safe to dogmatise, especially 
as one primer-writer borrowed freely from another, and he, 
again, from' a still earlier condenser and abbreviator, so that 
we may often be far from the original source.* 

The fragments of the Greek primer of epic literature, 
the ChrestomatJieia of Proclus, exist in five leaves surviving 
from an original text of eight leaves in the celebrated Venetian 
manuscript of the Iliad, first edited by Villoison (Marc. 454). 
A portion of what is lost in this MS. — namely, the analysis 
of the epic called the Cypria — survives in certain other 
MSS. of the Iliad. In the Bibliotheca of the patriarch 
Photius (of the ninth century a.d.) exists an account of the 
other parts of the Chrestoviatheia^ or primer of Proclus, 
whereof Photius had only extracts before him. Photius 

' ^\oiiiOy Journal of Hellenic Studies^ 1 883, 1884. 

^ A curious modern instance of such successive borrowings is to be 
found in the old books on angling. From the treatise ascribed to 
Dame Juliana Berners, printed late in the fifteenth century, down to 
the middle of the last century, it is a series of borrowings unacknow- 
ledged ; perhaps the original source of some of the stock remarks will 
never be discovered. 


summarises what Proclus had to say about * the so-called 
Epic Cycle/ It began with the embraces of E^rth and 
Heaven, and contained a complete mythical history, both of 
gods and men. The * Cycle' was 'filled up' out of the 
works of various poets, ending with the death of Odysseus 
at the hands of his son Telegonus. Proclus reports that 
the * Cycle ' was preserved, and had its popularity, not so 
much for its literary excellence as for the sequence of events 
narrated in the poems. Proclus also gave an account of 
the lives of the authors of the poems. He next discussed 
the authorship of the Cypria^ which some attributed to 
Stasinus of Cyprus, some to Hegesinus, others to Homer, 
who gave it as a dowry to his daughter when she married 
Stasinus. The conception of literary property thus disclosed 
has been discussed elsewhere. From another reference to 
the ChrestomatJieia it appears that some of * the ancients ' 
assigned the * Cycle ' to Homer, thus illustrating the use of 
Homer's as a collective name, if indeed * Cycle ' here means 
the epic Cycle. 

The word * cycle ' has caused some difficulty, because 
it is used in different senses. In the Organon of Aristotle 
the word is given as an example of * the ambiguous middle,' 
a kind of pun. 

Every cycle is a figure. 

The epic (?) is a cycle. 

Therefore the epic (?) is a figure. ' 

But the word here used in Greek is rd t7r»;, or \\ 'O^tipov 
iroiri<Ttiy and it appears that we cannot here regard tci 
i-rrj as meaning ' the epic,' still less * the Epic Cycle,' for 
Aristotle, in the Poetics^ distinguishes the Cypria and UttU 

' Ttt tin\ fcufcXos ; elsewhere, ^ 'O/i^pou iroi77(r»y <rx^M<* '** "^^^ 
kvkKov, Post. Anal. i. 12, lo. (p. 77 b, 32) ; Soph. El. 10, 6. (p. 17 1 a, 
10). Mr. Monro cites Brandis' Scholia in Aristotehtn (p. 217 a, 
44 b. 16) for the explanation by Joannes Philoponus, 

* CYCLE ' 327 

Iliad (which were parts of Proclus's * Cycle ') from the poetry 
of Homer. Mr. Monro decides that ra t7ii\ and \\ *0/i{fpov 
7ro/i;<7ti mean, not the epics, but a short poem attributed to 
Homer, and known as * the tcvicXog ' or as * a kvkXoq,* This 
was *an epigram so constructed that the same line may 
form either beginning or end, as in the verses inscribed on 
the tomb of Midas.' The people of Cyme, as we learn 
from the Life of Homer falsely assigned to Herodotus, at- 
tributed the epigram to Homer. This is one of two explana- 
tions of the Aristotelian phrase given by Joannes Philoponus 
in his commentary on the Posterior Analytics, The * Cycle,* 
or kVk'Xa^j thus understood, answered, curiously enough, to 
the Rondeau, In a Rondeau the same words are both the 
beginning and end of a short poem, and the Rondeau^ or 
* round,' is itself a figure, a cycle, or circle Thus we might 
illustrate the ambiguous middle by saying : 

Every * round ' is a figure ; 
The Rondeau is a round ; 
Therefore the Rondeau is a figure. 

It is not an uncommon use of words to apply tU enrj to 
a mere rondeau, or brief epigram, and it is impossible that 
by KVkXog Aristotle understood what Proclus knew as * the 
Epic Cycle.' 

The term * Cycle,' again, is used ' of * a work on the Cycle ' 
by Dionysius of Samos, and Athenseus quotes thence a 
prose story of the Cyclops. '-^ Clemens of Alexandria quotes 
the same book for a tradition about the Palladium, and a 
scholiast on the Orestes of Euripides (988) speaks of * Diony- 
sius, the cycle-writer.' His book was plainly a statement in 
prose of the matter contained in old epic poems. We have an 
analogy for such a work in the history of the French epic. 
The exploits of * every paladin and peer ' of Charlemagne 

* Athemeus, p. 477 d. * Monro o^. cil, p. 22. 


were originally sung in epics, or cliamons degeste^ such as the 
Song of Roland, In course of time these old French epics 
were wholly forgotten, till they were disinterred in the be- 
ginning of the nineteenth century. But prose summaries of 
the French epics remained current in the Biblioth}que BleuCy 
as chapbooks. It is by no means impossible that the 
prose * Cycle ' of Dionysius superseded, to a great extent, the 
old epics, which would gradually become obsolete, at what 
date we do not know— as, indeed, we do not know the date 
of the prose work by Dionysius. 

Another difficulty as to the date of the * Cycle ' is caused 
by the occurrence of the word vwicXuor, * cyclic,* in the scholia 
to the Iliad (as vi. 325), which contain excerpts of the work 
of Aristarchus in Alexandria, But here * cyclic ' means * con- 
ventional ' or 'formal,' * a piece of epic mannerism.* The 
same meaning, according to Mr. Monro, attaches to kvkKikov 
in a well-known epigram of Callimachus, and to Horace's 
scrip tor cyclims} In the Greek Anthology (xi. 130) 
Pollianus mocks 'the Cyclic poets who sayavrap £-€cra, and 
who shamelessly rob Homer.* These were probably 
archaistic epic-writers of the Alexandrian age, persons like 
Quintus Smyrnaeus in a later day ; perhaps Apollonius 
Rhodius is meant. WTioever these poets called ' Cyclic * 
were, they obviously took the advice offered to the Ram in 
the fair}* tale : * Bdlier, mon ami, commencez par le com- 
mencement,' and began their poems ^ from the egg ' of I^da, 
like Antimachus of Colophon. 

In all these senses of * cycle ' and * cyclic,' then, as used 
by Aristotle, Horace, Callimachus, and the rest, no refer- 
ence, according to Mr. Monro, is intended to the * Cyclic 
Poems ■ and * Cycle ' analysed by Proclus. 

These poems (so far as Trojan affairs are concerned) 
are : 

' AnihoL xii. 43 ; Epist. tut Pis. 1 35. 


The Cypria} 

The jEthiopis, 

The Little Iliad, 

The Iliou Fersis {Sack of Hios), 

The Nostoi, 

The Telegonia, 

These composed what Proclus calls the * Epic Cycle/ or, 
rather, they composed the Trojan part of the * Epic Cycle,' 
with the addition of the Iliad and Odyssey, The contents 
of these two epics Proclus does not analyse, taking for 
granted that everybody knows them. It is thus obvious 
that they were infinitely more popular than the other 
ancient pieces on kindred subjects. There is evidence that, 
in their places in the * Cycle,' the other epics were not given 
in their full original form, hut were curtailed and dove- 
tailed into each other, as the framers of the * Cycle 'chanced 
to prefer the version of one or another minstrel.^ This is 
proved by comparing the list of dramas which Aristotle says 
were made out of the Little Iliad with the contents of the 
Little Iliad as given by Proclus, when describing the * Epic 
Cycle.' The framers of the * Cycle ' at a certain point de- 
serted the Little Iliad for the Sack of Ilios, preferring the ver- 
sion of events therein contained. It is also plain that, in taking 
the Cypria into the * Cycle,' the makers of that collection 
altered a certain passage described by Herodotus (ii. 116, 
117) so as to bring it into harmony with the account given in 
the Iliad. All these operations, and the * Cycle ' as such, are 
probably later than the Alexandrian school of criticism. 
They belong to an age of short cuts, like Miss Braddon's 
abbreviations of the IVaverlcy novels. The poems, as they 
stood in the * Cycle,' and as they are described by 

' The analysis by Proclus is not in the manuscript known as 
* Venetus A,' but missing, and restored from other MSS. 
- Monro, op, cit, p. 13. 


Proclus, are probably fwt the poems as their authors left 

We must now examine the scant remains of the poems, 
and the brief analyses which tell the gist of their stories. 
Such analyses, as anyone may observe who reads a perfunc- 
tory review of a novel, can give little idea of the literary 
merit of the lost poems. They do prove, however, that 
Aristotle was right when he declared that the Iliad and 
Odyssey were composed on a plan more artistic than the 
plan of the other old epics. 

First in order among the epics, which were included in 
the * Cycle,' and which dealt with Trojan affairs, comes the 
Cypria^ in eleven books. The analysis of Proclus runs 
thus : 

*Zeus takes counsel with Themis about the Trojan war.' 
Here we have a fragment of the original poem, quoted in the 
Venetian scholia to the Iliad, i. 5, 6. Zeus was alarmed by 
the increase of population. He therefore devised the 
Trojan war, that the broad -breasted Earth might be 
lightened of her burden, * and in Troia were those heroes 
slain, and the counsel of Zeus was fulfilled.' ' 

The same account of the divine origin of the war is 
given — probably from the Cypria — by Helen, in the prologue 
to the Helena of Euripides. 

To continue the analysis by Proclus, Discord throws 
down the golden apple at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. 
Paris decides the strife as to which of the three divine 
claimants of the apple is the fairest ; he was bril)ed by the 
promise of Helen. He builds ships to sail in her quest ; 
Helenus prophesies evil ; Aphrodite bids -Eneas sail with 
him ; Cassandra foretells doom. Paris is entertained in 
I^conia by the Tyndaridae (Castor and Polydeuces), and in 
Sparta by Menelaus : Paris gives Helen gifts ; Menelaus 

* Kinkel, Epicorum Gntcomm Fragment a^ p. 20. 


sails to Crete. Aphrodite brings Helen to the bed of Paris ; 
then they sail away with the treasures of Menelaus. Hera 
sends a storm ; they are carried to Sidon ; Paris takes the 
town, sails to Troy, and weds Helen. Meanwhile, Castor 
and Polydeuces drive the cattle of Lynceus and Idas. Idas 
slays Castor. Polydeuces kills Idas and Lynceus. Zeus 
gives the Dioscouroi immortality on alternate days. Iris 
tells Menelaus what has befallen in Sparta ; he consults 
with Agamemnon, and goes to Nestor. The old Nestor 
tells him many stories about (Edipous, the madness of 
Heracles, Theseus, and Ariadne. Then comes the muster 
of heroes. Odysseus feigns madness, ploughing the sea- 
sand ; he is detected by Palamedes, who lays the child 
Telemachus in the track of the plough. They meet at 
Aulis. We have the omen of the sparrows and the serpent. ' 
They sail, and, mistaking Teuthrania for Troy, they sack 
it. Telephus comes to aid the city ; he is wounded by 
Achilles. A storm scatters them ; Achilles is driven to 
Scyros, and marries Deidamia. He heals Telephus, who 
becomes their guide to Troy. They meet again at Aulis. 
Artemis substitutes a stag for Iphigenia, and makes her 
immortal. They sail to Tenedos. Philoctetes is bitten by 
a snake, and is left in Lemnos. Achilles has a quarrel with 
Agamemnon. Protesilaus is slain in the landing at Troy. 
Achilles slays Cycnus, son of Poseidon. The embassy goes 
to demand Helen of the Trojans ; she is not given up ; 
there is an attack on the walls. The Greeks ravage the 
neighbourhood. Achilles has an interview with Helen, by 
aid of Aphrodite and Thetis. He drives the cattle of 
/Eneas, and sacks adjacent towns. He gets Briseis as his 
prize. Agamemnon gets Chryseis. Palamedes is slain. Zeus, 
to relieve the Trojans, causes the withdrawal of Achilles. 
There is then given a catalogue of the Trojan allies ; and 

' Iliad, ii. 308-320. 


SO ends the Cypria^ according to the analysis of Proclus. 
It is not a dramatic ending ; and probably is no more than 
the arrangement made, not by the poet, but by the framers 
of the * Cycle,' so as to lead up to the opening of the 

The fragments of the poem which survive add a 
little to the bare sketch of the grammarian. We learn 
that * the shaft of the spear of Peleus ^ was cut by 
Chiron, the Centaur. A passage' describes the flower- 
scented raiment of Aphrodite, fragrant with crocus and 
h)'acinth, violet, rose, narcissus, and lily. The quotation 
is from Athenaeus (xv. p. 682 d- f) ; he says that the 
pK>et was Stasinus, or Hegesias, or — some one else. Pro- 
bably Aphrodite's arraying was for the judgment of Paris. 
The fourth fragment displays the procession of garlanded 
n)Tnphs and graces, walking and singing with Aphrodite 
along the hill of many-fountained Ida. This also is from 
Athenaeus. In the fifth fragment Castor is said to have been 
mortal, but Polydeuces immortal. The sixth fragment, of 
twelve lines, shows Nemesis fleeing from the embraces of 
Zeus, and taking many shapes to baffle his pursuit, 

^rcipcTo 7ap <pptyas atioi 
Koi y€uiffti. 

To make Nemesisy?^/ Nemesis, a sense of moral shame, is 
extremely unlike the manner of Homer. The incident has 
its parallels in the Mabinogion and in the Arabian Xights^ 
and (except in the case of Proteus, Od. iv.) has no analogies 
in the Homeric epics. A reference of Pausanias to * him 
who made the Cypria ' as authority for a statement about 
two daughters of Apollo is of no moment. The remark of 
Herodotus that the Cypria brought Paris from Sparta to 
Troy in three days, while the Iliad makes him storm -tossed 

• Fr. 2. ' Iliad, xvL 140. » Fr. 3. 


on his voyage, shows that the poem, as analysed by 
Proclus, had been altered so as to make it consistent with 
the Iliad.* 

The ninth fragment, quoted in the scholion to Pindar's 
tenth Nemean ode, 114, deals with Lynceus, the brother of 
Idas, and enemy of Castor and Pollux. According to the 
scholiast, Aristarchus read, in the Pindaric passage, ^/xeroi', 
not ///ici'ouf , following the story in the Cypria^ for the author 
of the Cypria says that Lynceus spied Castor hidden in the 
oak-tree. Lynceus, in the fragment, looked all over Pe- 
loponnesus, from Taygetus, and so beheld the Dioscouroi (or 
one of them) * within the hollow oak-tree.* Lynceus, accord- 
ing to the scholiast, could see through stone and earth. In 
fact, he is our old friend Keen-eye of the fairy tales. Castor 
was slain when thus discovered. The tenth fragment ^ runs : 

* Wine, Menelaus, have the gods made the best of things 
to scatter the cares of mortal men.' Pausanias (x. 26, 4) 
says that, according to the Cypria, Lycomedes gave to 
the son of Achilles the name of Pyrrhus, but Phoenix 
called him Neoptolemus. Now, * Homer, in all his 
poetry, styles him Neoptolemus : ' thus Pausanias does not 
assign the Cypria to Homer. A scholion on Sophocles, 
Electra^ 157, alleges that the Cypria gave Agamemnon four 
daughters, adding Iphigenia to the three named by Homer,' 

* Chrysothemis, and Laodice, and Iphianassa.' Any one of 
these three Achilles may marry, in the Iliad ; but, if Homer 
knew of Iphigenia, he also knew that she was either sacri- 
ficed at Aulis or removed by Artemis to Thrace. 

Omitting one or two notices of no importance, we 
find * that the Cypria explained how Chryseis was 
captured at Thebaj ; she had gone thither, from Chrysa, to 

• Herod ot. ii. 117. " Athenjeus, ii. 35 c. 
=• Iliad, ix. 145. 

* Fr. 16, cited by Eustathius, Iliad, i. 366, and Venetian scholia 


a sacrifice. The Cypria contained another feiry tale of 
three maidens who could produce com, wine, and oil at 
will, and who fed the Greek army— a magical commissariat' 
Of course, this fable out of the stock of Mdrchen is alien to 
the taste of Homer. 

Still more alien, if possible, is the tale in the Cypria 
that Od>*sseus and Diomede killed Palamedes when fishing.* 
Homer's heroes are no anglers, nor would Homer thus have 
maligned Odysseus. The legend is one of the many which 
traduce the stout-hearted Ithacan. A quotation of Plato's 
who merely cites *the poet,' that 'reverence goes with 
dread,* is attributed by the scholiast ' to * the Cypria^ by 
Stasinus.* Whether Plato did assign the Cypria to Stasinus, 
or any other named poet, we cannot be absolutely certain. 

The names of the composers of the epics are better 
known to late than to early authorities. It has even been 
doubted whether such writers as Pausanias really knew the 
Cypria at all, though Pausanias, speaking of the ir.urder of 
Palamedes, remarks, * This I have read in the Cypria ' 
(x. 31, 2). A reference to the birth of the Gorgons, who 
dwelt in an isle of Ocean called *Sarpedon,' is cited by 
Herodian ; and Clemens Alexandrinus quotes Stasinus for 
the line, * Fool, who slays the sire and spares the children.' 

These are all the certain references to the Cypria which 
time has spared us. They are few, but enough to furnish 
strong presumptions in favour of several conclusions. First, 
as Aristotle remarks, and as the analysis by Proclus in- 
dicates, the Cypria had not real unity of treatment ; unlike 
the Iliad and the Odyssey, it yielded topics for many dramas. 
It was something of a chronicle-poem, not dealing with the 
adventures of a few days, but wandering over a great space 
of time and country. Aristotle says it has * one hero, one 

• ScholL veL ad Lyiophr. 570 ; Kinkel, p. 29. 

• Pausanias, x. 31, 2. * Euthyphro^ 12 a. 


time, and one action of many parts.* The hero may have 
been Paris, but Achilles is really as prominent ; the * one 
time ' is time of great length ; the * parts ' are a string of ill- 
connected adventures. For example, when the poet deserts 
Helen and Paris on their flight, and returns to the raids and 
revenges of Helen's brothers in Peloponnesus, he leaves the 
main thread of action with no obvious reason. The cattle 
robberies of the Dioscouroi, their death and immortality, 
have no connection with the main action except as explain- 
ing why Helen's brothers did not pursue Paris. The two 
separate meetings at Aulis are clumsy ; * the purpose of 
Zeus' to reduce population and relieve the burden of Earth, 
is un- Homeric in its premature political economy. If the 
influence of Aphrodite be the main ethical motive in the 
Cypria^ we cannot say for certain whether it was a rule of 
epic composition to give every poem an interest of this 
kind, or whether the action of Aphrodite is an imitation 
of the action of Athene, in the Odyssey. But, whatever 
he may have imitated, the author or the Bearbeiter of the 
Cypria did not imitate the unity and concentration of the 
Odyssey and the Iliad. 

The set of incidents in the Cypria raise two questions : 
how far did the author expand hints from the Iliad, and 
how far have we a right to say that he used legends 
* unknown to Homer * ? Certain events, such as the 
capture of Lymessus and Pedasus,* the present of a spear 
to Peleus,^ the embassy into Troy,^the omen of the serpent 
and sparrows,^ are common to Iliad and Cypria, It is 
probable that they were suggested by the Iliad, but it is 
not impossible that both authors borrowed from a common 
stock of legend. We must be cautious in denying that 

' Fr. 15 ; Iliad, ii. 690 ; xx. 92. 

- Fr. 2 ; Iliad, xvi. 140. ' Proclus ; Iliad, iii. 205. 

♦ Proclus ; Iliad, ii. 308-320. 


Homer knew the stories in the Cypria to which he did not 
make reference. Homeric ignorance can seldom be justly 
inferred from Homeric silence. He never speaks of the 
Apple of Discord, but he may not have been ignorant of 
that Mdrchen, where Discord plays the part of the hostile 
fairy at the christening. To the judgment of Paris he only 
alludes in a suspected passage (Iliad, xxiv. 29). In that text 
the gods generally resent the outrages of Achilles on the 
dead Hector, except Poseidon, Hera, and Athene. The two 
goddesses resent the arrt of Paris, who * flouted them when 
they came to his hut, but gave praise to Aphrodite, who 
filled his mind with evil lust* The passage was doubted by 
Aristarchus, and, as we have seen, the twenty-fourth l>ook 
is under critical suspicion. But, of course, even if the 
passage be rejected, we could not argue that Homer does 
not know the legend because he does not mention it. 

The curious tale of the death of Helenas brothers ' must, 
in part at least, have been known to Homer. From 
Iliad, iii. 236, where Helen looks vainly for Castor and 
Polydeuces among the (}reeks, it is plain that the author 
knew that they had died between the flight of Helen from 
Sparta and the moment of her appearance on the wall. He 
merely says, * them already the life-giving earth embraced, 
there in Lacedaemon, their own dear native land.* Their 
alternate immortality is not hinted at here, but need not 
have been unknown to the poet. It is mentioned in the 
Odyssey, xi. 302-304, where Mr. Leaf regards line 304 as an 
interpolation.^ According to the tale in Pindar, Polydeuces, 
as the son of Zeus, was immortal ; Castor, as the son of 
Tyndareus, was mortal. But the former hero halved his 
immortality with his brother. Of course, the sons of Zeus 

' nescril)ed by Pindar in the Tenth Nemean Ode. 

^ Jontnai of Phtioiojy^ \o\. xii. p. 287; also Rokkcr, Horn. />u 

ii. 37. 


by mortal women are not immortal in Homer. All the 
element of fairy tale, in the matter of Lynceus, is ignored 
by Homer, but he need not have been ignorant of it. He 
never alludes to Palamedes, and we may be certain that, 
if the story of his murder by Odysseus had been known to 
Homer, he would have rejected it. The incident of the 
changes of shape by Nemesis is as old as fairy tale, but is 
quite alien, like the story of the girls who produced oil, 
wine, and corn, to Homeric taste. These girls play the part 
of the magical Sampo in the Kalewala^ or of the Gold- 
spinner in Grimm's Mdrcken. Even Buddhism has its 
parallel to the corn, wine, and oil producing girls. When 
Mendaka bathed his head and sat down by his granary, 
showers of grain fell from the sky ; his wife had only to sit 
by a dish, and it filled with food. Their son had the purse 
of Fortunatus.^ The fable is puerile, yet such fables are 
very antique, and may well have been within the range of 
Homer's knowledge, though he never would have used 
them in the epics. 

Thus, in construction and in incident, the Cypria is 
plainly of a lower order of literary merit than the two great 
epics. It shows traces of having been composed partly on 
Homeric hints, and to lead up to the Iliad ; but these 
indications may be partly due to the changes introduced 
when the Cypria was incorporated with the * Cycle.' We 
are certain that the poem was inferior in merit to the Iliad 
and Odyssey ; we are inclined to believe that it was later 
than these epics. As to its date and authorship we shall 
speak later. Old it undeniably was, and critics may dispute 
as to whether it was a botched, patched, and redacted mass 
of ancient ballads and earlier epics. If it were, the motive 
of its Bearbeiter, his reason for his industry, may possibly 
be explained by the persons who believe in him. 

' Coplestone, Buddhism^ p. 6i. 




According to Proclus, the Cypria preceded the Iliad (of 
which he gives no analysis), the .^thiopis^ of Arctinus the 
Milesian, followed it. The .^thiopis was a poem in five 
books. After the death of Hector, Penthesilea, Queen of 
the Amazons, came to the aid of Troy. She was Thracian 
by race, and a daughter of Ares. In the midst of her 
valiant deeds, she was slain by Achilles, and was buried by 
the Trojans. Achilles slew Thersites, who railed at him and 
accused him of a lover's regret for the dead girl. The killing 
of Thersites caused a feud among the Greeks.* Achilles 
sailed to Lesbos, and was purified of the manslaying by 
Odysseus, after sacrifice to Apollo, Artemis, and Leto. 
Next came Memnon, son of the Dawn, in a panoply made 
by Hephaestus. Thetis prophesies to Achilles about the 
fate of Memnon, who slays Antilochus, son of Nestor, and 
friend of Achilles. Then Memnon is slain by Achilles, but, 
on the prayer of the Dawn, is granted immortality by Zeus. 
Achilles routs the Trojans, follows them into Troy, and is 
slain by Paris and Apollo. His body is carried oflf by Aias, 
while Odysseus repels the Trojans. Antilochus is buried, 
Thetis and the Muses, with the Nereids, sing the dirge for 
Achilles ; Thetis takes his body from the pyre, and carries it 
to the Isle of Leuke. The Achaeans build a howe, and hold 
games ; Aias and Odysseus quarrel about the arms of 
Achilles. So ends the analysis of Proclus, but probably the 
yEthiopis actually overlapped the Litt/e Iliad, and told of 
the suicide of ^Vias. The fragments are (i) the Townley 
scholion on the last line of the Iliad, where some write, ' So 
they buried Hector, but the Amazon came, daughter of 

' According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, who probably followed some 
old tradition, Thersites was of the kindred of Diomede, who took up 
the blood -feud. 


Ares.' The scholiast on Pindar {Isthm, iii. 53) says that 
in the ^thiopis Aias slew himself about the time of dawn. 
(2) Eight lines about the surgical and medical gifts of 
Machaon and Podalirius are quoted by the scholiast.* 

In this poem the incidents known to Homer are * the 
slaying of Achilles, as foretold by Hector. Another version in 
which Apollo slays Achilles is used by Quintus Smyrnseus. 
Again,^ Homer knows that Memnon slew Antilochus. Of 
the Amazons Homer only speaks in the story of Bellerophon,* 
and iii. 189, where Priam says that he had warred against 
them in his youth. The Ethiopians, in Homer, dwell at 
the limits of the world. He does not mention them as the 
army of Memnon. He knows ^ the lament of the Muses for 
Achilles, but he contemplates no immortality for his hero in 
the Isle of Leuke. Nor does he intend that Thetis shall 
carry away the body of Achilles, who clearly means to be 
buried, when his hour comes, with Patroclus.^ The idea 
of immortality is not unfamiliar to the Odyssey. Calypso 
offers it to her lover in his lifetime, and Castor and 
Polydeuces obtain it in a limited form, while Menelaus is to 
be deathless, as the husband of Helen. But Homer never 
alludes to hero-worship, such as Achilles received in Leuke, 
an isle of the Euxine, according to Pindar and later tradi- 
tion. However late books xi. and xxiv. of the Odyssey 
may be called, they seem to be earlier than the ^thiopis, 
for, in the Odyssey, Achilles is no hero, but a shadow. A 
thoroughly un-Homeric point in the j^thiopis is purification 
for manslaying. The rite was archaic or savage : the slayer 
was smeared with the blood of swine. ^ But Homer, who 
often mentions homicides, never hints at the ceremony of 

' Venetus B, Iliad, xi. 515. * Iliad, xxii. 359, 360. 

» Odyssey, iv. 187. * Iliad, vi. 186. 

^ Odyssey, xxiv. 6a *> Iliad, xxiii. 245. 

' EuMunideSi 273. 

z 2 


purification. It may have existed in his day ; if it did, his 
taste rejected the ritual. Thus the yEthiopis is clearly un- 
Homeric ; it represents other manners, another treatment of 
legend, perhaps a wider geographical knowledge. The 
story, however, follows Homeric lines ; Antilochus is a 
replica of Patroclus ; the contest for the body of Achilles is 
a replica of the contest for the body of Patroclus. Thetis 
plays her accustomed part ; all ends in a funeral and funeral 
games.* The change in custom (as of purification) and the 
l)elief in heroic immortality, point to a period subsequent 
to the date of the Iliad and the Od>'ssey. The author, or 
authors, of Odyssey xi. and xxiv., cannot have believed in 
the translation of Achilles to Leuke, but of course it may be 
urged that the author of the .-Ethiopis cannot have known, 
as he does not follow, the version of Achilles's fate given in 
the Odyssey. Many diverse legends were obviously in 
existence, and it is illogical to argue that a poet * did not 
know * the form of the tale which he did not choose to adoju. 

From all these indications we may conclude that the 
.Ethiopia is later in date than the Iliad and Odyssey. If we 
grant that the last books of the Odyssey are ver)' late, we 
shall find it difficult to account for the absence there of so 
important an idea, to the mind of post- Homeric Oreece, as 
that of purification after homicide. It is familiar in the 
Cyclic poets, and we can hardly suppose that a continuator 
of the Odyssey, coeval with the Cyclic writers, would l)e a 
conscientious archaeologist, and would, therefore, abstain 
from any reference to the rite as an anachronism. 

The Utile Iliad is ascribed to so many writers — Lesches 
of Mitylene,^ Thestorides of Phocsea, Cinaethon of Sparta, 
Diodorus of Er)'thrae, and Homer himself— that we may 
believe the author to have been unknown. The abstract of 

' Monro,/. ^. 5., 1884. 

' Called Le:»cbeos by Pausania^, x. 25. 5. 


Proclus omits the closing events, apparently because here 
the arrangement of the * Cycle ' deserted the Little Iliad for 
the Iliou Persis or Sack of Troy^ attributed to Arctinus. 
Aristotle, however, mentioning the tragedies taken from the 
Little Iliad^ enables us to fill up the story. First, according 
to Proclus, came the award of the arms of Achilles to Odys- 
seus — a circumstance known to the eleventh book of the 
Odyssey. Aias goes mad, and kills himself. Odysseus 
catches Helenus, the Trojan prophet, and on his advice 
brings Philoctetes from Lemnos. He is healed by Machaon, 
and slays Paris, whose body is maltreated by Menelaus 
and buried by the Trojans.' Deiphobus marries Helen. 
Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, is brought from Scyros, 
receives the arms of Achilles, and sees the ghost of his 
father. Eurypylus is slain by Neoptolemus. Epeius makes 
the Wooden Horse. Odysseus enters Troy as a spy, is 
recognised by Helen, and, with Diomede, carries the Pal- 
ladium (not mentioned by Homer) out of the city. The 
poem, as described by Proclus, ends with the introduction 
of the Wooden Horse. Aristotle* adds to our information. 
He praises Homer for not telling the whole chronicle of 
the war. * But the others write about one matter, and one 
time, and one action of many parts, like the authors of the 
Cypria and the Little Iliad, Thus, out of the Iliad and 
Odyssey, one tragedy can be made, or two only, but many 
out of the Cypria^ and more than eight ' (ten, in fact) * out 
of the Little Iliad' These tragedies are the Award of the 
Arms, Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, Eurypylus, the Begging of 
Odysseus, the Lacaenian Women (a chorus of maidens of 
Helen), the Sack of Ilios, the Sailing Away, Sinon, and the 

The fragments of the Little Iliad amount to about 

* The legend of CKnone does not occur here. 
- Fo€t. xxiii. 


twenty lines. Some are parodied by Aristophanes.* Others 
speak of the golden vine which Zeus gave to Laomedon, in 
atonement for his son Ganymede.* This vine is believed 
to be referred to in Odyssey (xi. 521) as *a woman's gifts.' 
Priam bribed with the golden vine the mother of Eurypylus 
to send him as an ally of Troy. Pausanias (x. 25, 5) sup- 
poses Polygnotus to have read the LittU Iliad and illus- 
trated it on the walls of the Delphian Lesche. According 
to Pausanias (x. 27, i), the poem includes the adventure of 
Coroebus, the wooer of Cassandra. The relenting of 
Menelaus at the sight of the breasts of Helen also occurred 
here.' The Little Iliad ^ adopted the Athenian theory that 
/Ethra,'* the attendant of Helen, was the mother of Theseus, 
which, as the scholiast says, is chronologically out of the 
question. Neoptolemus carried off Andromache ; he first 
threw Astyanax over the wall. This conduct, no doubt, 
was dictated by a desire to avoid the blood-feud.^ Neopto- 
lemus killed Priam, not at the altar, as in Virgil, but at the 
door of his palace. 

Most of the events in the Littk Hiad are subjects of 
allusions in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Palladium and 
Sinon are un-Homeric. 

The Uiou Persis of Arctinus, according to Proclus, was 
in two books. The Trojans watch the Wooden Horse, 
doubtful about destro}nng it. They dedicate it to Athene, 
and begin to revel. The serp)ents attack Laocoon, as in 
Virgil, .'tneas, awestruck, escapes to Mount Ida. Sinon 
lights signal fires, the Greeks return from Tenedos, the men 
in the Horse rush out on the Trojans, and the city is taken. 
Neoptolemus slays Priam at the altar, Menelaus slays 

» Equites^ 1056. * Schol. ad Eurip. Troad. 821. 

* Aristoph. Lysistrata^ 155 and scholion. 

* Pausanias, x. 25, 8. ^ Iliad, iii. 144. 

* * Oft waxes wolf in youngling.* Brynhild in VoUung Saga, 


Deiphobus, and takes Helen to the ships. Aias, in dragging 
away Cassandra, overthrows the statue of Athene ; the 
Greeks wish to stone him, but he takes sanctuary at Athene's 
altar. The city is burned, and Polyxena, daughter of 
Priam, is slain at the grave of Achilles. Neoptolemus seizes 
Andromache, Odysseus kills Astyanax. The sons of 
Theseus take their grandmother ^thra. The Greeks sail 
away, and Athene contrives for them peril on the sea. 

It is plain that Proclus omits the beginning of the 
Iliou PersiSy and gives the poem only as it stood in the 
Cycle. Dionysius of Halicarnassus ^ says that Arctinus 
here told the legend of the Palladium, the Luck of Troy. A 
facsimile of the real Palladium was stolen by the Greeks, 
the genuine one was hidden. The hero of the poem is 
probably Neoptolemus. Creusa probably appeared here, 
the wife of ^fineas.* It was probably said that -^neas kept 
the genuine Palladium, and the whole poem would coincide 
in aim with the apparently interpolated account of ^'Kneas 
in the Iliad.^ The whole poem, and the yEthiopis, bear 
traces of influence from the traditions of Asia Minor. 
Arctinus, as Mr. Monro conjectures, probably survived as 
* a witness to the Roman national legend,' and he inspired 
the second book of the ^neid. 

The Nostoiy in five books, are attributed to Hagias of 
Troezen. Athene set Menelaus and Agamemnon at odds 
about the route homewards. Agamemnon stays to pro- 
pitiate the goddess. This Menelaus neglected.^ Menelaus, 
with five ships, reaches Egjrpt. Diomede and Nestor return 
safe home. Calchas, Leontes, and Polypeithes, faring by 
land to Colophon, bury Calchas there. The ghost of 
Achilles vainly warns Agamemnon of the dangers that await 
him. Aias is wrecked in a storm. Neoptolemus, by advice 

' Antiq. Rani. i. 69. * Monro, op, cit, p. 31. 

■ Iliad, XX. 178-352. * Odyssey, iv. 352. 


of Thetis, returns overland through Thrace ; he meets 
Odysseus in Maroneia. Phoenix dies ; Neoptolemus, in 
Molossia, is recognised by Peleus. Agamemnon is slain, 
and avenged by Pylades and Orestes. Menelaus reaches 
Sparta. The Nostoi^ according to Pausanias (x, 28, 7) con- 
tained an account of Hades. In some way the story of 
Medea restoring J^on to youth occurred in the Nosioi} 

The Anger of Athene is the chief motive in the poem. 
The name of the slave-mother of Menelaus's son * is given in 
the Nostoiy which also notes the presence of Odysseus in 
Thrace.^ Un- Homeric arc the references to Colophon, an 
Ionian colony, and to the Molossians. 

The Telegonia closed the Homeric part of the * Cycle.' 
It was by Eugammon of Cyrene, in two books. 

The wooers slain by Odysseus are buried by their 
kindred. Odysseus sails, after sacrifice to the Nymphs, to 
Elis, after cattle ; he is received by Polyxenus ; certain stories 
are related as episodes. 

Odysseus returns to Ithaca, and later performs the sacri- 
fice to Poseidon among men who know not salt. Then he 
goes to Thesprotia, and marries Callidice, queen of the 
country. I n a war with the Br)gi, the men of Odysseus are 
routed by Ares, whom Athene opposes. Apollo reconciles 
them. Callidice dies ; her son by Odysseus, Polypoetes, 
succeeds. He goes to Ithaca, where he is slain unwittingly 
by his son by Circe, Telegonus, who takes Penelope and 
Telemachus to Circe. She makes them immortal. Tele- 
gonus marries Penelope, and Telemachus weds Circe. 

Here the Thesprotian incidents merely provide the 
Thesprotian royal family with a descent from Odysseus. 
The rest is a silly sequel, to say *what became of them 

' Argum, ad Eurip. Midtam. 

•, Odyssey, iv. 12. 

' Odyssey, ix. 39, 197. 


all' And thus the last echoes of the immortal song die 
away in a mere literary manufactory. 

Concerning the authorship of the poems included in the 
* Cycle/ it is plain that our information is both scanty and 
dubious. Arctinus, Stasinus, Lesches, Hagias or Agias, 
are mere names to us. Athenseus (vii. 277) speaks as 
doubtfully as we must do about the author of the Titano- 
machia — * Eumelus, or Arctinus, or whoever he may be ' — 
and (viii. 334, xv. 682) admits his ignorance as to who 
composed the Cypria. In Photius, Stasinus of Cyprus, 
Hegesinus of Salamis, and Homer himself (who presented 
the book as his daughter's dowry to Stasinus) are mentioned. 

Pausanias, the antiquarian, who described Greece in the 
second century, is copious about the Cyclic poets ; but his 
evidence has lately been attacked, on the score that the 
poems had dropped out of sight before his time. He 
assures us that ' I read ' this or that in the epics, but 
Wilamowitz Moellendorff thinks, to quote Dr. Johnson on 
Pot, that ' if Pausanias said that, Pausanias lied.' * Now, 
Pausanias, for example, in x. 26, where he describes the 
pictures of the Trojan war painted by Polygnotus at 
Delphi, quotes I^sches (whom he calls Lescheos), and the 
Cypria^ just as he quotes the Iliad, and, to all appearance, 
has read what he quotes. When he has not read a poet, 
like Hegesinus, whose work was lost, he says so frankly 
(ix. 29): * it was lost before I was born.' If, then, the Cyclics 
were lost before Pausanias was born, it is not likely that he 
would pretend to have read them. He could have de- 
ceived nobody, if the poems were not extant. He supposes 
(x. 28) that, in one passage, Polygnotus followed the Minyas, 
Had he not read the Minyas, and, if it was lost, why is he 
less frank than in the case of Hegesinus? In x. 31, 2, 
he tells us of the murder of Palamedes, and says, * I read 

* Homer. Untersttch, p. 338. 


it in the CypriaJ* * Either Pausanias composed the most 
learned archaeological exegesis of ancient times, or he 
makes a swindling claim to learning not his own.* ' In 
Wilamowitz's opinion, Pausanias cribs his learning from 
some earlier describer of the work of Polygnotus, to whose 
mind the Cypriay the Little Iliady the Nostot\ and the 
Minyas were anonymous. 

Pausanias, then, according to Wilamowitz, lives, as it 
were, on manuals of the past, and has no original first-hand 
knowledge of the epics. He, and the writers of scholia^ and 
so forth, all go back to learned treatises of an earlier day, 
by Apollodorus, Dionysius Scytobrachion, Aristodemus, and 
other scholars of 150 50 b,c. The conclusion is that the 
really learned ancient grammarians distrusted all names 
assigned as those of authors of epics. The Chronicle of 
Eusebius is dismissed, as no valid authorit}- on Ixschcs, 
Arctinus, and the rest. On the whole, *the ancient 
grammarians looked on the Cyclic epics as anonymous. 
The classical period (450-150 b.c?) 'regarded them as 
Homeric'* Our oldest allusion to Homer, that of Callinus, 
quoted by Pausanias, attributes the Thebais to Homer. 
Pindar ^ clearly attributes to Homer the story of the suicide 
of Aias. It is Pindar* who tells how Homer gave the 
Cypria to Stasinus. This rather makes against Wilamo- 
witz's theor)', for it is plain that, even in Pindar's time, 
the name of Stasinus was connected with the authorship 
of the Cypria, Herodotus (ii. 117) doubts the Homeric 
authorship of the Cypria^ because of a discrepancy with the 
Iliad. There criticism begins. It must really have l>egun 
earlier, when Pindar could explain the connection of Stasinus 
\^^th the poem by the tale that it was given to him by 
Homer as the dowr)* of his wife. People must have said, 

* Homer, Uniersuch. p. 340. * Ibid. p. 351. 

• Isthrn. iii. 53. * Fragments, 1S9, B*>eckh. 


* Stasinus never could have composed anything so good,' 
and then the story would circulate that he ploughed with 
Homer's heifer. We have no reason to suppose that the 
doubts of Herodotus as to the authorship began with 
Herodotus. In brief, the classical age has a tendency to 
attribute HymnSy MargiteSy Tkebaisy and everything to 
Homer ; but there were others who doubted, and the early 
mention of Stasinus shows that other claimants were not 
unnamed. As to whether the Cyclic poems vanished about 
150 B.C., and were only known in extracts, or (like the 
French chansons de geste) in prose compilations, we must 
decide according to our view of the good faith of Pausanias, 
who avers that he read them. 

Wilamowitz concludes that *the Iliad, as it stands, is 
not the work of one man, nor of one century ; nay, it is not 
a work at all. The Iliad is nothing but a Cyclic poem. . . . 
There is no distinction of quality between " Homeric " and 
"Cyclic"' — between Iliad and Cypria} On this showing, all 
early Greek epic is Homeric and not Homeric. Those 
who have observed the vast differences in art, method, and 
manners which sunder Iliad and Odyssey from Cypria and 
Telegonia will scarcely accept this sweeping theory. In 
art, the Iliad and Odyssey are immeasurably superior ; in 
custom and myth, considerably older than the Cyclics, 
as even the little we know of these poems reveals. But, 
on the theory of Wilamowitz, we must, apparently, believe 
that, in a certain age, floating lays innumerable were bear- 
beitedy and cooked, and dovetailed, so as to produce, not 
only the Iliad and Odyssey, but all the many Cyclic epics. 
Who took all this trouble, when, where, and, above all, 
why ? How could it possibly pay any mortals to undertake 
this colossal labour ? For, if Iliad and Odyssey be huge 
pieces of patchwork, so must Cypria^ and ThebaiSy and 

» Op, ciL pp. 374, 375- 



yEthiopis^ and all the rest of them, be. AVhat reward did 
the forgotten btarbdters and diaskeuasts reap for all their 
industry ? Whatever we may think of Iliad and Od>'sseyy it 
is difficult to believe that all the Cyclic poems were, as 
theorists assert of them, originally tags of lays, reduced into 
order and sequence by persons without any intelligible 
motive. The more probable view is the old view, that the 
Iliad and the Odyssey were the models of ambitious later 
poets, in the eighth, seventh, and sixth centuries. 



The poems of Homer are rich in descriptions of works of 
art, of decorative objects in gold, bronze, silver, and ivory. 
We hear of cups, brooches, adorned shields, baldrics, sword- 
hilts, and other trappings. Granting that Homer was 
describing, with a certain poetic licence, things with which 
he was familiar, the question arises, have any treasures been 
discovered which answer to his descriptions and give a 
clue to his date? Before entering minutely into the argu- 
ments on this topic it is necessary to ask what kind of works 
of art does Homer describe t It is impossible to remark on 
all of them : typical specimens must suffice. We find 
xi. 22) the breastplate of Agamemnon, given him by Ciny- 
ras of Cyprus. Commentators who think that the author 
of the original poem was not acquainted with Cyprus of 
course regard this passage as late. It was decorated with 
ten courses of cyanus, lapis lazuli, or an imitation in glass 
paste. A frieze of this material is mentioned in the palace 
of Alcinous,' and such a frieze was found at Tirj'ns.^ The 
breastplate had also ' twelve courses of gold, and twenty of 
tin ' ; there were snakes of cyanus on it. The sword had 
golden studs. The shield had circles of bronze, tin bosses, 
a cyanus boss bore the Gorgon's head, and the shield was 
large enough to cover all the body of a man. Can such 

' Odyssey, vii. Sj. 

' Schuchhaidt, Sdliemaim's DiscmerUs, Engl. Iraml. p. 117. 


a shield, or that of Hector, which hung from neck to ankles, 
have been circular? As to the Gorgon, Mr. Leaf argues 
that it was unknown to Greek art before the seventh cen- 
tury. There is, however, excellent reason to believe that it 
was known to Greek mythology, in the tale of Perseus. 
Dread and Terror accompany the Gorgon on the shields; and 
on the chest of Cypselus (circ 700 B.C.), which Pausanias 
saw at Olympia, Agamemnon was represented with Terror 
on his shield, a lion-headed figure.* Allowing the Gorgon's 
head, for the sake of argument, to be an interpolation later 
than the whole passage, itself late, this shield is a puzzle. 
At what age, if any, did Greeks wear shields that covered 
the whole body, and were decorated with inlaid glass paste ? 
On a ring found in the Mycenaean graves^ we see a warrior in 
a crested helm, and carr>ing a huge circular shield, which, 
like Agamemnon's, covers all his body. The shield of a 
lion-hunter on a Mycenaean dagger blade' hangs, like 
Hector's, from neck to ankles ; it has a kind of waist in the 
middle. Another hunter has as huge a shield, which is 
oblong. But on a vase from Mycenae* (apparently later 
than the shaft-graves) the warriors use small shields of the 
shape of a three-quarter moon. In historic Greece the 
shields were not nearly so large as those in Homeric de- 
scriptions and in Mycenaean works of art. The shields in 
the Dipylon vases, about the middle of the seventh centur>', 
are small round bucklers ; and the ordinary circular shield 
with heraldic devices, as shown on vases of later dates, 
are not half the size of Homeric shields. On the whole 
the huge shield seems to take us back to an early age of 
prehistoric Greek armour, beyond that it were unsafe to go. 
The high-crested helmet is represented on the ring already 
referred to, but its wearer's opponent has no helmet. Some 

' Pausanias, v. 17. ^ Schuchhardt, p. 196, figure lySw 

' Schuchhardt, p. 229. * Ibid, figure 284. 


of the warriors in a representation of a siege, on a silver 
bowl from Mycenae, are naked. Others, unhelmed, have 
large pointed shields, unlike those depicted on the dagger 
blade.* Homer's warriors always wear greaves: there are 
no greaves among the treasures of Mycenae, nor are any 
depicted on Mycenaean works of art. On the other hand, 
gaiters were worn, clasped with elaborate clasps of gold.'^ 

The shield of Achilles, made by Hephaestus,^ is clearly 
an ideal work of art. Homer probably never saw anything 
so elaborate, and so rich in various pictures of human 
life in peace and war. Some points of detail are notable : 
the gods are wrought in gold, and the raiment on the 
shoulders of a Fate is ^red with the blood of men.' A 
vineyard is rich in clusters ' wrought fair in gold, black were 
the grapes, but the vines hung throughout on silver poles.* 
The kine * were fashioned of gold and tin.' If we are to 
understand that these things were inlaid with gold of divers 
colours — red and lighter yellow — we find a parallel in the 
inlaid dagger blades of Mycenae and in Egyptian dagger 
blades dated about 1600 B.C. But though Homer may 
have seen such work, the objects may have been old heir- 
looms, and he need not have been contemporary with the 
art. Meanwhile, as will be shown, others find a parallel to 
the decoration of the shield in Phoenician bowls of metal 
of the seventh century B.C. 

Turning to more peaceful objects, we find Nestor's 
golden cup : * another man could scarce have lifted it when 
full,' it had studs of gold, four handles or supports, and 
there were doves on the handles. ** A very much smaller 
cup, with rods connecting the handles and the foot, and with 
doves on the handles, was found in the royal graves of 

> This bowl is engraved as a frontispiece to Mr. Leafs Companion, 
^ Schuchhardt, p. 228. ' Iliad, xviii. 480. 

« Iliad, XL 632. 


Mycenae.* Another cup of silver, with a gold rim, is given 
by Menelaus to Telemachus.* It was a present to Menelaus 
from the King of Sidon, and was the work of Hephaestus. 
In places too numerous to mention, works of art are derived 
from the Sidonians or Phoenicians, or are attributed to 
Hephaestus. All this looks as if the jewels known to 
Homer were of Phoenician importation. Now, in the 
treasures of Mycenae, Phoenician influence in art is much 
less visible than the influence of Eg)rpt. We may, per- 
haps, argue that, in the poet's age, the Phoenicians im- 
ported work from Egypt, and had not yet struck out their 
own eclectic art— half Assyrian, half Egyptian. But whereas 
much of the Mycenaean work is apparently native, though 
influenced by Egypt, gold workers, in Homer's day, seem to 
have been rare among the Achaeans. The gold brooch of 
Odysseus ' was embossed with a group of a dog catching a 
deer, a ver)' common motive in the earliest gems, whatever 
their exact date may be. We are not told whence the 
brooch was procured, but * all men marvelled at it.' 

While many of the objects found at Mycenae, like the 
dagger blades and cups, are like things described by Homer, 
the costume of the men and women is different ; the 
women wear a kind of flounced petticoats : the men, as a 
rule, wear ver>- little but a kind of drawers. In funereal 
matters, we see that the corpses were not burned as in Homer, 
but were, to some extent, mummified and buried in deep 
graves, not, as in Homer, under tumuli. There may have 
been different arrangements in peace and war.^ On the 
whole, the art and life in Homer answer to those of no 
historically known Greek period, nor exactly to those of the 
heroes buried in the deep * shaft tombs ' of Mycense. In 

• Schuchhardi, p. 241. - Odyssey, iv. 616. 
' Odyssey, xix. 226. 

• Lesif, Introduction to Schuchhardt, p. xxvi. 


them no trace of iron has been found, ^ whereas, in Homer, 
iron is used as synonymous with * weapon,' and the metal 
is frequently mentioned. It would appear, then, that the 
age of Homer is between that of the Mycenaean graves and 
the dawn of actual history. Putting the graves conjectu- 
rally at 1 500-1 300 B.C., this might place Homer about 
1 200-1000 B.C. ; but all this is very much guess-work. 

Throughout this summary sketch it has been purposely 
taken for granted that the graves of Mycenae are extremely 
ancient and * Achaean ' — that is, tombs of men who died 
before the Dorian invasion, roughly dated iioo-iooobc. 
But this very point has been recently disputed, and must be 
more narrowly examined. 

Before coming to close quarters with the problem, we 
should remember that antiquarians have been apt to wel- 
come each new piece of evidence as the key to the whole 
question, forgetting that the pickaxe and spade may at any 
moment bring fresh and contradictory testimony. For 
example, a whole theory as to the date of Homeric civilisa- 
tion has been based on certain Phoenician objects of art, 
mainly bowls of silver and other metals, which have been 
thought, as we saw, to illustrate Homer's descriptions of 
decorative metal work, as in the shield of Achilles.* But 
later discoveries tend to show that the Phoenician metal 
bowls do not correspond to Homeric descriptions so closely 
as do certain other relics — namely, the already quoted 
dagger blades from Mycenae, for which an earher date than 
that of the Phoenician bowls has been claimed. These 

' Schuchhardt, p. 229. The use of iron in Homer was debated by 
the Hellenic Society, October 1892. In Odyssey, xvi. 294, occurs the 
proverbial expression, * iron of itself draws to it a hero.' In Iliad, 
iv. 123, * iron' is used as synonymous with arrow-head. The arrow- 
heads of the Mycensean graves are of flint ; at lalysus they are of 

'^ Iliad, book xviii. 

A A. 


bowls, in which the art exhibits a mixture of Egyptian and 
Assyrian influence, are decorated with rows or bands of 
figures in repousse work. Many of them were found by 
General Cesnola in Cyprus. Caere and Praeneste have 
yielded similar works of art The Phoenician bowls were 
dated about 720 -600 b.c., but it was admitted that they 
might go back * as far as Homer's time,' say 800 B.C. The 
advocates of a much earlier period for Homer and Homeric 
civilisation reply that the more recent discoveries at Mycenae, 
Vapheio, and elsewhere, show that the art known to Homer 
need not have been the art of the Phoenician bowls, but 
rather the art of the Mycenaean sword blades of which the 
Eg}'ptian models are as early as 1600 b.c. 

It is difficult or impossible to ^\ the period when Sidonian 
merchant-men, so familiar to Homer, began trading in metal 
work with Greece. Thus Helbig has observed that there 
exists an Eg\*ptian wall-painting in which Phoenicians bring 
silver vases, in the form of the heads of oxen, to Thothmes IIL 
(1 59 1 -1 565). Now, a silver bull's head, with gilded horns 
and a gold rosette on the brow, was found in a royal grave 
of Mycenae. Helbig, rightly or wrongly, regards this freely 
handled and masterly piece as of Phcenician work, which 
would throw back Phoenician dealings with (ireece to 
the sixteenth century. He also looks on the object as 
earlier than the Dorian invasion of Peloponnesus, say 
1 100 B.C. But the same form — the bull's head and rosette 
on the brow — occurs in the potterv* of Kalymna, in the 
same case as the early pottery of lalysus at the British 
Museum. Now, concerning the date of that very pK>ttery 
a battle is raging among antiquaries. The question is then. 
Are we to date Homeric civilisation by the Phoenician 
bowls, pbcing them about 800-600 B.C., or are we to admit 
that Phoenician trade with Greece may be eight hundred 
years older, and date Homeric art by the sword blades of 


Mycenae, perhaps from 1600 B.C. ? We shall show that such 
work existed in Egypt about 1600 B.C., but how long the 
fashion lasted, and whether the Mycenaean daggers in that 
style were new, when buried, or were old heirlooms, is 
another question. 

The differences of style between the bowls and the inlaid 
poignards are conspicuous. It may be said that the partisans 
of the comparatively late date of Homeric art rely on the 
evidence of the bowls, while the friends of a very early 
date rest chiefly on the swords, or rather daggers, and of 
other objects at Mycenae, which, we think, are clearly not 
Phoenician in style. On the Phoenician bowls, as we saw,, 
the figures are arranged in bands, and are represented in 
relief. There is no inlaying of various metals. But 
Homer, in the shield of Achilles, distinctly describes, as 
we saw, the effect of parti-coloured inlaid metals in the 
decoration of the shield. If, then, the art of the Mycenaean 
sword-blades is of a very early date — say 1600- 1400 B.C. — 
we naturally get an approximate date for the style of decora- 
tion familiar to Homer. The evidence of the daggers, later 
found, will modify or upset the theory based on the Phoeni- 
cian bowls by which the period of Homeric art had pre- 
viously been determined. The earlier date is supposed to 
be confirmed by the researches of Mr. Petrie in Egypt.* 
But, on the other hand, Mr. Petrie's conclusions are cen- 
sured by Mr. Cecil Torr as illogical and unproved, while 
Mr. Murray has advanced the hypothesis that the Myce- 
naean antiquities are not pre-Dorian at all, are not Achaean, 
but belong to the obscure age of the great Tyrants, such 
as Pheidon the Temenid — say, from 770 B.C. to 600 b.c. 
I shall indicate my opinion as to the improbability of this 
view, even in face of evidence mainly drawn from com- 
parison of style in the remaining objects of Mycenaean art. 

* Iliahun^ KahuHy and Gurob, 

A A 2 


But it may not be superfluous first to dwell for a moment 
on the extremely precarious nature of archaeological evi- 
dence as to dates, where unaided by actual written docu- 
ments, and even occasionally where these exist. Before 
we argue from the style of decoration or pattern, for 
example, we must remember that, in certain regions, one 
style may i>ersist long after it has disappeared in other 
districts. Again, potter}- made for the mass of the popu- 
lation may keep up archaic forms and archaic designs, 
while fashions in work meant for more wealthy cus- 
tomers may have altered again and again.* Potsherds of 
both classes may easily be found mingled in one ancient 
rubbish heap, and may cause great searchings of heart as 
to dates. Once more, in the hoards buried with the dead 
may be found objects, such as cups and swords and rings, 
which were already ancient heirlooms even at the time of 
the interment, or which were acquired from abroad, in 
commerce or in war. Hence the same tomb may contain 
pieces of most various date and pnrvenance. Again, even 
where a date is discovered, as on an Egyptian scarab, for 
example, we oinnot argue that the grave is as old as the 
Egyptian king whose cartouche is figured, because |>opular 
scarabs continued to be produced long after the time of 
the monarch whom they chronicled. A scarab of Queen Ti 
(1450 B.C.) was found at Mycenae, and a scarab of her 
husband, Amenophis III., with * Mycenaean' potter\% at 
lalysus - : but they need not have been conteniporar}- works. 
We cannot even argue with absolute certainty that a grave 

' We know that women in the Hebrides still make clay pots with- 
out the use of the wheel, and decorate iheni with incisions made bv 
the nails or with the point of a stick. Such a jx)t, in an age of 
modern factories and modern trade, survives, or lately survived, from 
a period of unknown antiquity, and exactly re^embles the pots found 
in our pre-historic graves. 

- Schuch. p. 294 ; Furtwacngler and Loeschke, Myk. las. p. 4. 


is of the date of the death of its inmates. Egyptian 
example shows that the royal dead might be removed, 
for security, to a new eternal home, and Mr. Percy Gardner 
has very ingeniously suggested that the corpses and trea- 
sures in the * shaft tombs ' of Mycenae, within the citadel, 
may conceivably have been transported thither for safety 
or other reasons from the beehive-shaped tombs outside 
the circle of the wall.* Such *flittings* of the dead are 
neither impossible nor unexampled • and if they ever 
occurred, we cannot even maintain that the dead, in a 
grave, are never of much earlier date than the latest object 
which the grave contains. For the latest object may have 
been accidentally dropped, or piously bestowed, by the 
persons who in a later age shifted the corpses from one 
to another habitation. In such cases, however, the grave 
usually shows unmistakable traces of having been dis- 
turbed. Thus, during the long ages of time past, many 
changes may occur, many new or even older objects may 
get mingled with others of a given date. Ancient styles 
of work and art may survive among others much more 
modem, and archaeological evidence can only be accepted 
with all the reserves which these circumstances, and our 
own ignorance and consciousness of prepossession, ought 
to suggest. Nor should opinions be obstinately held 
which a new discovery, the stroke of a spade, may at 
any moment upset. The questions before us, then, in 
the words of Mr. Leaf, are these : * What is the true re- 
lation of the Mycenaean civilisation to the Homeric poems? 
and what is its place in the development of classical 
Greece ? * 

The answers popularly accepted are : First, that the 
Homeric poems describe a civilisation descended from and 
akin to that of Mycenae, an Achaean civilisation not yet 

' New Chapters in Greek History y pp. 77-79. 


shattered by Dorian conquerors ; and, secondly, that the 
Mycenaean culture itself represents an early Achaean style 
of art, not free from foreign influences, but prior to the 
direct and p>otent Phoenician influence so strongly marked, 
for example, in Cyprus. Perhaps the only alternative 
hypothesis is that to which Mr. Murray inclines. Going 
backward from the better to the less known in Greek 
remains, he suggests that the Mycena?an ci\nlisation may 
not be pre- Dorian, not Achaean, but that of the age of the 
early Tyrants — roughly speaking from 770 to 600 b.c In 
comparing these two theories, and seeking to find the 
more plausible, we may reser\e the treasures of the graves 
for later consideration, and begin with the obvious archi- 
tectural relics of Mycenae and Tirj-ns. These are built in 
the various styles known as Cyclopean. The walls are of 
huge stones, some as much as ten feet long, by a yard high 
and thick. * Tir\'ns of the mi^htv walls,' as Homer calls it,' 
is clearly in fact as well as tradition the older and ruder of 
the two cities. At Mvcenje there are three stvles of 
masonr\\ There are blocks unhewn, or slightly hewn, 
piled on each other ; next there are well-hewn rectangular 
blocks laid in regular courses ; finally, there are polygonal 
blocks * fitting together with the most accurate joints.* The 
Lion Gate is of the second kind, but it is unsafe to conclude 
that it is later than adjacent walls in the first or rudest 
kind, though it shows signs of later adjustment and change. 
It may be later, or it may l>e a pit-ce of more careful work 
used in an important position. Much the same remarks 
apply to the polygonal masonry. This mode of building, 
which is also found in the ancient cities of the Incas in 
Peru, speaks of an early age, when there was great command 
of ialx)ur. As is well known, Greek popular tradirion 
attributed the walls to the Cyclopes, n rare of giants, just as 

' Iliad, ii. 560. 


in Scotland the Devil or Michael Scott, the wizard, is 
credited with superhuman constructions. More learned 
theory, in classical Greece, assigned the walls and beehive- 
shaped tombs or * treasure houses ' of Mycenae to emigrants 
from Phrygia, rich in gold. * Pelops came from Asia with 
much wealth, among needy men,' as Thucydides says.^ 
This was the view of Peloponnesian antiquarians, according 
to Thucydides. ' The vaulted shape of the graves is pro- 
bably to be traced back to the Phrygian style of building,* 
says Dr. Schuchhardt, *and the masses of gold can only 
have been procured from Phrygia or Lydia.' It is certain 
that the Cyclopean style is mainly found on very ancient 
and Homeric sites, as at Athens. It is also certain that 
Greek tradition and belief, without any variation, assigned 
Mycenae and Tiryns to the pre-Dorian Achaean age initiated 
by adventurers from Phrygia. Now, if Mycenae and Tiryns, 
as in Mr. Murray's hypothesis, were walled as we see them 
by despots of 770-600, it would be a most extraordinary 
thing if history gave no hint on the subject, and if tradi- 
tion were of the opposite opinion. But history is silent, 
and tradition is positive on the other side. The Greeks, 
according to Mr. Murray, could remember the first builder 
of triremes, dated 704 B.C., yet they had hopelessly forgotten 
the great contemporary builders of Mycenae. To wall 
Tiryns and Mycenae must have required such forced labour 
as the Normans, after the Conquest, extorted from the 
English. Could the hardships thus inflicted by the despots, 
according to Mr. Murray's hypothesis, have been wholly 
forgotten? Could the citadels and tombs have been 
ascribed, by the age of Thucydides, to a period infinitely 
more remote? Mr. Murray argues thus : — 

' It is just possible that a period covering the seventh 
century, and extending, perhaps, into the eighth century R.c. 

• Thucydides, i. 9* 10.. 


was the time in which the pottery and other antiquities of 
the Mycenae class were produced for the home market of 
Greece, and possibly in Greece itself. That period coin- 
cides with the rule of the tyrants in Greece -men like 
Pheidon of Argos, Kypselos of Corinth, and his son Peri- 
ander. Greek history says little of how they ruled ; but 
if we judge them by a comparison with Polyciates, the 
Tyrant of Samos' (540-520 B.C.), *then they may be sup- 
posed to have maintained their sway by large bodies of 
men, who were at their bidding for war, or for the execu- 
tion of public works, on a magnificent scale, in times of 
peace. At such a j>eriod we can conceive the great walls 
of Mycenie and Tiryns, together with the vaulted tombs of 
Mycenae, to have been built in rivalry with the tomb of 
their contemporary Alyattes, which Herodotus compared to 
the wonders of Eg)'pt and Babylonia.* ^ 

Homer, as we saw, distinctly speaks of the massive 
walls of Tir)ns. If Mr. Murray is right, Greek histor)- and 
Greek tradition, dating from an age relatively late, en- 
tirely forgot circumstances most remarkable. It is pre- 
cisely as if Robert d'Oily's castle at O.xford were locally 
attributed to King Arthur. Again we have the great works 
of Mycence and Tiryns, where there was no tyrant known to 
history except the neighbouring tyrant of Argos ; while 
where we do find known tyrants, as in Argos, Sicyon, and 
Corinth, we have no remaining works on the scale of 
those at Tir)'ns and Mycence."- Of Pheidon, the tyrant of 
Argos, ver}' little is known, and that on authority very 
late. If he really introduced coined money, he certainly 
left none of it in the graves of Mycenae. He was head 

' Handbook of Greek Art^ p. 57. 

- On I he (late of Pheidon, valuing from S95 to 600 D.c, >ec Grote 
(vol. ii. p. 315, note 2, edition of 1S69). lirole plare^i him 747 i:.r. 
See also Gardner's J y^ts of Grw': Ccitis^ y. 7. 


of the Argive confederacy, then the foremost power in Pelo- 
ponnesus. He may conceivably, perhaps, have fortified 
two neighbouring cities, Mycenae and Tiryns, much more 
strongly than he did his own— namely, Argos — but if he 
did so, legend and history have been curiously oblivious of 
so great and peculiar an achievement. He raised edifices, 
on Mr. Murray's showing, which Pausanias compares to the 
Pyramids of Eg5rpt, but in three hundred years his country- 
men, who remembered minor matters, had forgotten this. 
His comparatively recent and extraordinary eflforts as a 
constructor were lost to memory, and were assigned to a 
dim and dubious past and to a fallen dynasty. To believe 
in this theory is not easy. 

We now turn to the rather enigmatic evidence of 
the solitary piece of sculpture in the architecture of 
Mycenae. The famous headless lions of the Lion Gate 
(of which there is a cast in the South Kensington Museum) 
have always been conspicuous ; not so the very inferior 
and barbaric sculptures on the buried stelae or grave 
stones of the tombs unearthed by Dr. Schliemann. The 
lions of the gate are carved in relief, on a triangular slab 
of hard grey limestone, over the lintel. Their fore-paws 
rest on two bases, at a higher level than their hind-paws. 
Between them is a column crowned by a * curious capital, 
composed of a fillet, cyma moulding, roll and abacus.' 
Over the latter are four round discs, and these again are 
covered by a slab shaped like an abacus. * In Phrygia, 
Professor Ramsay has found two lions exactly similar to 
those of Mycenae, on either side of a column above the 
door of a rock tomb.' * In considering these lions of the 

' Schuchhardt, pp. 141, 142. Mr. Ramsay thinks that the lion 
type passed from Phrygia into Greece during the ninth, or more 
probably the eighth, century B.C. (See Journal of Hellenic Society^ 
ix. p. 37 1, j This suits Mr. Murray's age of Phcidon very well. 


gate, which Mr. Murray connects with early Greek gems, 
we reach a rather puzzling point in his argument. As is 
well known, various gems, both engraved stones and rings 
with subjects engraved on the gold bezel, were found in the 
shaft tombs of Mycense. ' The graves must necessarily be 
later —how much later we cannot tell — than the walls of 
the citadel. Now, Mr. Murray apparently believes that 
Homer was ignorant of gems and rings ; hence, we pre- 
sume. Homer lived before their introduction into Greece. 
* Homer,' says Mr. Murray, * never mentions engraved gems, 
though there are passages ivhere he would have been certain 
to have spoken of them had he knotvn of their existence, Pliny 
quotes the silence of Homer as evidence that gem 
engraving had not been in practice in his day.** If we 
take Mr. Murray literally, Homer was ignorant of the exist- 
ence and use of gems and rings. Therefore, he lived before 
the dale of the Mycenaean graves, where rings are plen- 
tiful. He also lived before the date of the tyrants who, 
according to Mr. Murray's hypothesis, built the walls of 
Mycenae, the city so familiar in the Homeric poems. This 
is certain, because ' the beginning of the tyrants would 
coincide with the date we have arrived at for the earliest 
class of engraved gems and the vases found with them.' 
Homer, then, the author who is so familiar with Mycenx, 
lived before Mycenae and Tirj-ns were walled as we see them 
now, for he lived before gems, of which he knew nothing, 
and the earliest engraved gems in (ireece coincide with the 

' Schuchhardt, p. 122. The engravetl stones are published in 
Eph. Arch. 1SS8, Pin. 10, 34, 35. For the rinj^s, see Schuchhardi, 
pp. 221, 277. Furtwaengler was lucky enough to pick up a sinalar 
ring in a Paris curiosity shop. It is engraved in his work on Mycenaean 

' We have constantly to protest against therex^oning which deduces 
Homer's ignorance from Homer's silence. 


date of the Argive tyrants who built the walls of Mycenae 
and Tir)'ns. This theory of Tiryns, at least, must clearly 
be given up as untenable, for Homer speaks, as we have 
said, of its mighty walls. 

Mr. Murray probably does not cling to the hypothesis 
that the Tirynthian walls are of the age of the Argive 
tyrants, and unknown to the author of the Catalogue, who 
mentions them. Our difficulty is to believe in walled 
Tiryns known to Homer, who did not know the Mycenaean 
walls as they stand, yet did know Mycenae. That city 
manifestly dominated Tiryns in Homer's mind. Could the 
Mycenaeans have held it in such force, as against the 
Tirynthians, without the walls ? Not so, we know, could 
Zethus and Amphion, hardy as they were, hold Thebes.* 

Mr. Murray's position, then, will be, that at about 
1000 B.C. Tiryns was already walled. About 800 b.c. 
Homer knew Tiryns a walled, and Mycenae, not yet 
walled, or not walled as we see it. About 750-650 b.c, 
and after Homer, come the rise of Argive tyrants, the in- 
troduction of gems, the building of the Lion Gate, increased 
fortification of Mycenae, and the making of the tombs in the 
citadel, those tombs which we have regarded as much older 
than Homer. 

A view somewhat akin to Mr. Murray's, but differing on 
important points, is that of Professor Ramsay, the explorer 
of Phrygian antiquities.'-^ Phrygia, in his opinion, was in 
close relation with the Asiatic Greeks of Cyme and Phocaea 
in the eighth century. *The Phrygian device' (the lions) 
* which appears over the principal gateway of Mycenae was 
learned during this intercourse, and belongs to the period of 
Argive ascendency, under Pheidon and his successors.' Mr. 
Ramsay publishes illustrations of Phrygian lion tombs, where 

' Odyssey, xi. 264, 265. 

- Journal of the Hellenic Society^ ix. 2. 


the attitudes of the beasts, though not perhaps the style of 
art, are closely analogous to the attitudes of the lions on 
the Mycenaean gate. He behaves that the animals are 
connected with the worship of Cybele, and that they repre- 
sent guardians who drive evil influences from the tomb or 
the town. The artists of Mycenae learned the device from 
Phr)'gia, or Phrygia and Mycenae both took it from a 
common source. The Lion Gate is thus of the eighth or 
ninth century. * Historically there is good reason to assign 
at least part of the fortifications of Mycenae to the time 
when the Argive kings were the greatest power in Greece ' — 
that is, to the period of Mr. Murray's tyrants.* But Mr. 
Ramsay does not hold the same views as to the dates ot 
the royal graves in Mycenae. These are much older than 
the Lion Gate, he thinks, and are pre-Dorian. * The people 
who built the Lion Gate considered the peribolus with 
the tombs as sacred, and the heroes buried in the tombs 
belong to an older time. . . . The Dorian conquerors 
continued the family cultus of the chiefs whom they dis- 
possessed.' This they did in part owing to the influence 
of Homer, who had made Mycenae famous and sacred. In 
Mr. Ramsay's opinion, then, the Homeric poems, to some 
extent at least, are older than the Dorian invasion. The 
Dorians, thanks to Homer's charm, were proud and anxious 
to be regarded as Achoeans, akin to Homer's heroes. Thus, 
while they built the Lion Gate and decorated it on Phrygian 
models, in the eighth or ninth centur)*, they still revered the 
dead in the royal graves, which are much more ancient 
than the Dorian possession of the city. If Mr. Murray is 
right in making the lions of the gate coeval with the gems 
in the graves, then Mr. Ramsay is wrong, and both the gate 

' Mr. Ramsay cites similar opinions of Wilamowiiz Moellendorff, 
in Ilcnfic'Sj xxi. iii., and of Niese, Eni'cich. </. Homer. Poesie^ 
p. 21S. 


and the graves are of the age of the Argive tyrants of the 
eighth century. 

This point is matter for archaeological and artistic criti- 
cism of style. Are the contents of the tombs coeval on the 
whole with the lions of the gates? Are the lions of the 
gates necessarily so late as the eighth century ? 

On these points Mr. Flinders Petrie is at variance with 
both Mr. Murray and Mr. Ramsay. With Mr. Ramsay he 
believes in the great and pre-Dorian antiquity of the Royal 
tombs ; but as to the lions he thinks them of the same or 
older date.* *The lions on the gate are similar in position 
to a gilt wooden lion broken from some small decoration, 
which I found dated to 1450 b.c' This wooden lion is *in 
exactly the same attitude.* * That the design penetrated to 
Phrygia is nothing surprising, considering the range of 
Mycenaean culture.' ' 

The diversities of archaeological opinion are thus clearly 
illustrated. We have Schuchhardt, Furtwaengler (in his 
work on Mycenaean pottery), Mr. Leaf, and current opinion 
generally in favour of a remote pre-Dorian date for the 
Mycenaean antiquities, both for walls, gate, and objects in 
the royal graves. We have Mr. Ramsay, citing Wilamowitz 
Moellendorff, Niese, and others as believing in a Dorian and 
Tyrannical date for the Lion Gate, while Mr. Ramsay leaves 
the graves to the ancient Achaeans. We have Mr. Petrie 
believing that the gate, as well as the graves, is pre-Dorian, 
founding his theory on Egyptian evidence. Finally, we 
have Mr. Murray, who assigns walls, gate, lions, and the 
bulk of the objects in the royal graves to Dorians of the 
eighth and seventh centuries. 

' J. H. S. xii. 1. 

^ Op. cit. p. 203. The reader may also consult Chipiez and 
Perrot, VArt dam la Phhticie (1890), pp. no, 220. They hold 
that Phrygian designs of lions reached Greece, probably on embroidered 
tissues, not the converse, as in Mr. Pctrie's theory. 


Mr. Murray's view about the contents of the tombs is 
based on comparison of styles in pottery, sculpture, gem 
engraving, and general decoration. In pottery found in 
the oldest Greek sepulchres the earliest type is the 'primi- 
tive.' ' The handles of primitive vessels are usually ' rudi- 
mentary.' The ornament takes the form of * incised 
zigzag lines.' ^ The pottery of Mycenaean tombs is of a 
character later than the primitive. The vases are covered 
with a * creamy slip,' and the designs are painted in black. 
What is the date of the Mycenaean pottery ? Is it Achaean, 
and earlier than the Dorian invasion (looo b.c.), or is it 
later, or did it begin early and last through the revolution 
of society and the change of ruling races ? Furtwaengler 
and I^oeschke, in Mykatische Vasen^ take the Mycenaean 
vases to be early and pre- Dorian, relying on comparisons 
with Egypt The Acha^ans would imitate pottery which 
Egypt presented to their view — say in the fourteenth cen- 
tury B.C. This is not the only theory ; Mr. Petrie holds 
that the vases of the fourteenth century, found in Eg}-pt, 
were brought there or made there by Achaeans. But Mr. 
Murray, arguing against Furtwaengler, says that Greeks 
would find in Egypt much the same vases, whether 
Achaeans went thither in the fourteenth, or much later 
Greeks in the seventh, centur)-. ' Egypt was for centuries 
an unchanging countr\' ' (p. 25); yet * for a long i>eriod 
previous to 600 b.c. Eg)'pt had been sinking into deeper and 
deeper degradation ' (p. 24). Thus the * unchanging coun- 
try ' had been changing ver>' greatly. This matter little 
affects the argument. * One thing the Greeks would not 
have seen, and that is finely-painted pottery. The ancient 

' * Pottery is the ver)* key to digging. To know the varieties of ii, 
and the age of each, is the alphabet of work.' (Flinders Petrie, Ten 
Years^ Digging in Egypt ^ p. 1 58. ) 

* Ha»idbook^ p. 6. 


Egyptians were not skilled in that art.' Thus as far as 
pottery goes, if finely-painted pottery is found in Egypt and 
dated 1300 b.c, or earlier, either it is wrongly dated, about 
which there is a discussion, or the Achaeans, as in Mr. 
Petrie's view, not the Egyptians, were its makers. Mr. 
Murray sets aside the idea, in itself unlikely on all grounds, 
that the Phoenicians made and introduced the pottery of the 
Mycenaean style. 

Mr. Murray's own argument as to Mycenaean pottery 
may be stated thus : We ought to begin with the known, 
the dated, and argue back. Let us start, then, from vases 
of Camiros, with inscriptions in which the character of the 
writing gives the date as early in the sixth century B.C.* 
Here, as may be seen at the British Museum, are human 
figures, with written names, on a field which is filled up 
with rosettes. Behind this art, earlier than this, comes a 
style in which rows of animals are designed, in Assyrian 
fashion, and rosettes fill up the field.^ Greek colonists in 
Egypt in the seventh century B.C. might learn this manner 
from contact with Phcenicians. The rosette Mr. Murray 
claims as specially Assyrian. But it is also frequent in the 
Egypt of Rameses III. (1200 b.c.).^ It is at least open to 
argument that pre- Dorian Greece got the rosette from 
Egypt — that the rosette did not need to wait for Assyrian 
introduction in the seventh century. Mr. Murray's belief, 
however, is that the rosettes on these vases were imitated 
by Rhodian potters and potters of Naucratis, the seventh- 
century Greek settlement in Egypt, from Assyrian em- 
broidery of curtains and dresses. Moving still further 
back, we find ornament mainly geometrical in style ; the 
vases in which it is most prevalent, accompanied by very 
rude designs of men and women and chariots, are called 

' Handbook^ p. 28. '' Ibid, p. 59. 

* Flinders Petrie, J. H, S, xii. i. 


the Dipylon t)'pe, as many were found near the Dipylon 
gate in Athens.' On these \'ases are pictures of sea-fights : 
soldiers on board are threatening each other with spears, as 
in English MSS. of the fourteenth centur}\ Mr. Murray 
argues that * Homer knew nothing of battles at sea, nor o! 
ships equipped for that purpose.' • These Dipylon vases, 
then, must be later than Homer. They are thought * to be 
of the middle of the seventh centur}'. But to assert in a 
popular handbook, and without qualification, that Homer 
knows nothing of battles at sea nor of * ships equipped for 
that purpose,' because he did not mention them in an inland 
epic, may, not inconceivably, prove misleading. In the 
attack of the Trojans on the ships * we read, * Nor yet did 
it please the spirit of high-hearted Aias to stand in the place 
whereto the other sons of the Achaeans had withdrawn, but 
he kept faring with long strides up and down the decks of 
the ships, and he wielded in his hands a great pike for ship- 
battles (ivoToi' fiiyn rav^ia\oi), joined with rings, two-and- 
twenty cubits in length.' These pikes are again spoken of 
as * used in ship-battles ' in Iliad xv. 389, where the spears 
ser\*e to repel attacks on ships drawn up on land. Thus 
Homer is not ignorant of ship-battles, though he does not 
find occasion to describe one. Mr. Murray ob\'iouslv 
thinks that the long spears were exclusively employed to 
repel attacks on ships drawn up on shore, and the>- are 
so handled in the fifteenth book of the Iliad. But can we 
safely confine the meaning of ivtrror fiiya yav/ia\or to such 
a conflict ? * The first naval battle that Thucydides was 
aware of occurred between the Corinthians and Corcyneans 
in 664.' ^ But wherever and whenever armed enemies met 
in hostile ships, there, in the nature of things, would be 

* Handbook y p. 32, plate 3. - IhiJ, p. 39. 

* Op, cit. p. 40. * Iliad, xv. 674, 
^ Handbook^ p. 4a 


fighting, though history did not preserve the records of 
these engagements. One example, at least, of very early 
ship-battles we happen to possess. In the reign of 
Rameses III., about 1200 B.C., certain Northern invaders 
attacked Egypt. Whoever they were, they were *^gean.' 

* They came up leaping from the coasts and isles,* says the 
inscription on the walls of a temple erected by Rameses III. 

* A defence was built on the water, like a strong wall, of 
ships of wary of merchantmen, of boats and skiffs. They 
were manned from stem to stem with the bravest warriors. 
. . . They who had assembled themselves over against the 
others on the great sea, a mighty firebrand lightened before 
them, in the mouths of the river. Their ships and all their 
possessions lay strewn on the mirror of the water.* ^ This 
naval battle was not on the open sea, but *in the lakes 
of the mouths of the Nile.* The wall-pictures show men 
boarding ships, and a mast falling, with the man on the 
mast-head.*-^ In these invaders De Rouge, with Mr. Flinders 
Petrie, sees pre-historic Greeks, contrary to the opinion of 
Brugsch. Helbig thinks that the invaders were from Asia 
Minor. In any case dwellers on shores and isles of the 
Greek sea, as early as the thirteenth century B.C., were con- 
temporary with naval battles. That Homer should have 
known nothing of such warfare is highly improbable, and 
we can scarcely believe that the word raiimy^of was in his 
time confined merely to a battle for the possession of ships 
drawn up on shore. This is a digression, intended to illus- 
trate the methods of archaeological argument. To return 
to the Dipylon vases with their pictures of sea fights ; these, 
we gladly agree, are later than Homer. 

Behind the Dipylon vases again, confessedly more 

' Brugsch, History of Egypt, English translation, ii. 148. 
- Chaba-, Etudes sur CAn'iqtiitt^ 2nd edit. pp. 309-313 ; Helbig, 
op, at. p. III. 

B B 


ancient than these, are the pieces of pottery found in the 
royal tombs of Mycenae. Similar vases, with similar decora- 
tion, are also found in lalysus, Crete, Carpathos, Egypt, and 
elsewhere. Now, there was an old Argive, therefore Dorian, 
colony in lalysus. But part of the Ial)'sian territory 
was called * Achaia,* and it may have been Achaean and 
possessed old Mycenaean pottery before the Dorian settle- 
ment. This pottery has already been described, with its 
creamy slip, and paintings in dark brown. But we had not 
previously said that the Mycenaean pots are identical with 
those of lalysus in Rhodes.* In lalysus also were many 
rosettes of blue glass, such as are found at Mycenae. The 
designs on the vases show rosettes (of Assyrian origin in 
Greece, says Mr. Murray), but these rosettes, though 
common in glass, are rare on this pottery. The sketches 
of marine creatures, dolphins, octopuses, on the vases of 
Mycence and lalysus, * are drawn with extraordinar)* free- 
dom ' — a freedom which also marks some of the Mycenaean 
and island gems, and is especially notable in the gold designs 
on bronze dagger blades from the Mycenaean tombs, and in 
those extraordinar)' works, the gold cups of Vapheio. But, 
in drawing quadrupeds, the Mycenae- lalysus potter is un- 
skilled, while the gem engravers are ver)^ clever. 

We now reach the crucial point. Are we to date the 
potter)' of Mycenae by that of lalysus, and that of lalysus 
by the potter)- of Camirus, of the sixth centur)-, as fixed by 
the character of the writing on the vases of Camirus? This 
appears to be Mr. Murray's view. We shall then have ^-ases 
of Camirus, sixth centur)- ; Dipylon vases, seventh centurj- : 
Mycenae and lalysus vases, eighth and ninth centuries. So 
the royal tombs of Mycenie, which contain \*ases of this 
kind, will be of the ninth-eighth century, and therefore post- 

^ Handbook, p. 21. The British Museum is rich in the remains of 
lalysus, the gift of Mr. Ruskin. 


Dorian, and even later than Homer. They will tell us 
nothing about Achaean civilisation and the dim heroic age. 
On the other hand, we establish a continuity in Greek art, 
going backward from the sixth century to the age of the 

This, if we rightly understand it, is Mr. Murray's 
theory, which he also applies to the gems, gold work, and 
other remains in the royal tombs. 

The opposite theory of Furtwaengler and Loeschke, Mr. 
Percy Gardner, Schuchhardt, Mr. Petrie, and others, takes 
the royal tombs and their contents to be pre-Dorian, and 
relics of the Achaean age. Confronted with the similai 
relics of Dorian lalysus, they would probably argue that 
Argive Dorians retained the style in pottery which they 
found in Mycenae, just as the primitive style of pottery was 
retained even later. Or they would maintain, with Mr. 
Leaf, that Rhodes was Achaean before it was Dorian, and 
that the pottery of lalysus is pre-Dorian.* Granting a 
Dorian invasion, it does not follow that a style of decora- 
tion in pottery would be destroyed by it : the Dorians 
might employ and imitate the Achaean potters. Mr. Murray 
himself is 'tempted to regard the peculiar shapes of this 
pottery and the limitation of the designs to aquatic sub- 
jects ' as notes of * a local fabric with these special tastes, 
rather than as indications of a special period.' ^ As * primi- 
tive ' pottery lasted, we are told, till the seventh century, in 
some places, who can tell how long the style of JEgean pot- 
tery lasted, or how far it goes back into antiquity ? It is a 
curious fact that old Mexican pottery is often, in shape, 
colour, and decoration, hardly to be distinguished from 
that of Mycenae and lalysus.^ There is the same creamy 

• Petrie,/. H. S. xi. p. :?7i, plate 14. 
^ Handbook^ p. 28. 

^ There are examples of this Mexican pottery in the British Museum. 
The author owes many pieces to the kindness of Mr. W. J. Way. 

B B 2 


hue, the same form, the same decorative design in a rich 
brown bordering on black, and there are even examples in 
which rows of deer are drawn on the vases, as in somewhat 
later Greek art The meander appears in a rudimentary 
form. This does not bear on the question in hand, but is 
worth noting as a case of coincidence in culture. We now 
come to a fresh difficulty and a new crucial point. If Mr- 
Flinders Petrie rightly interprets his own discoveries in 
Egypt, then pottery akin to that of Mycenae (^^gean potter\- 
he calls it) is found in Egj-ptian places, where it must be, 
or is very likely to be, much older than the eighth or ninth 
century b.c. It is not pottery of native Egyptian make. If 
it be as old in Egyptian soil as Mr. Petrie believes, then in 
Mycenae certain examples may be of the thirteenth and 
twelfth centuries, others a ver)- great deal earlier. There is 
something that almost baffles the historical imagination in 
Mr. Petrie's h\-pothesis. At times even people who are 
ready to believe in the pre- Dorian culture and its remains 
may fear that Mr. Petrie proves rather too much. He put 
forth a sketch of his conclusions in the Journal of the 
Hellenic Society, for October 1890, and stated his ideas with 
more detail in his Illahun^ Kahun^ and Gurob, The most 
emphatic way of illustrating Mr. Petrie's opinions is to bid 
the reader go to the British Museum. Here in the long 
galler}' on the first floor he will find examples of Greek 
potter)' so arranged that the visitor who enters by way of 
the great staircase from the south passes from the late and 
accomplished types of vases, Panathenaic and others, back- 
wards to the inscribed vases of Camirus, to the vases with 
friezes of animals in Assyrian style, to the geometrically 
ornamented potter)*, to the potter)- of lalysus, and to similar 
fragments from Mycenx. Among these he will see pot- 
sherds of 'fine, thin, hard, light-brown ixiste, of .-Egean 
origin, with iron glaze-l>ands,' which he will probably assign 


to the ninth century, or even to a later age. But these 
potsherds Mr. Petrie found * in rubbish heaps which pro- 
bably have never been disturbed since 2500 b.c.,' rubbish 
heaps of the Twelfth Dynasty. If -^gean or Mycenaean 
pottery was being made in 2500 B.C., we must attribute that 
enormous antiquity to a civilisation which existed on the 
shores of Hellas, by whomsoever these shores were then 
possessed. Again, at Kahun, Mr. Petrie found a city of the 
Twelfth Dynasty, say 2500 b.c. The houses had cellars cut 
in the rock. One of these cellars was used, many centuries 
later, by people of the Nineteenth Dynasty as a tomb. In 
this tomb are eleven coffins, each coffin containing five or 
six bodies. In one tomb, the ninth, was an ^gean vase, 
decorated with a freely-drawn pattern of ivy-leaf. Mr. 
Petrie dates this vase about iioo b.c.^ There is in the 
coffins an absence of objects earlier than the Nineteenth 
and later than the Twentieth Dynasty. This is the general 
tendency of the argument, whereby the Twentieth Dynasty 
is fixed as the date of the coffin and the ^gean vase. Thus, 
if Mr. Petrie be right, we have a clear case of ^^gean or 
Mycenaean pottery of very ancient date, and, consequently, 
this class of pottery with free drawing must be much older 
than the date assigned by Mr. Murray. To all this Mr. 
Cecil Torr demurs, in the Classical Review for March 1892. 
Mr. Torr objects that Mr. Petrie argues thus : the coffin at 
Kahun is later than the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth 
Dynasties, for their work is absent ; earlier than the Twenty- 
second Dynasty, for here is none of its work. We might 
as well say it is earlier than the Nineteenth, or is later than 
the Twenty-second, as Mr. Torr contends. But we under- 
stand Mr. Petrie to mean that all the work which can be 
dated, except certain obviously older objects, is of the 

' Illahutty p. 24. 



Twentieth Dynasty, and so then must be the -^gean vase.' 
The arguments are too compHcated and minute to be stated 
afresh in this place. But they leave the impression that 
Mr. Torr quarrels less with Mr. Petrie's facts than with his 
method of arraying them. Mr. Petrie accepts and makes 
much of a * Grasco-Libyan alliance ' against Eg>'pt, and of 
* Libyo- Achaean ' invasions. These were described by De 
Roug^, on the evidence of wall-paintings at Medinet Habu.* 
In the enemies of Eg>*pt from the north, called Lebu, 
Aquaiusha, Shardana, Sikelsha, De Rouge recognised 
Libyans, Achaeans, Sardinians, Sicilians, Etruscans, and so 
forth. Brugsch controverted these ideas, and brought the 
invaders from Colchis, of all places. '* All the names of the 
invaders of Eg>'pt are really open to dispute ; and, tempting 
as it is to connect Aquaiusha with Achaeans, and with 
Mycenaean or ^-Egean pottery in Eg)'pt, Mr. Petrie, perhaps, 
prejudices his case by the identification. 

Here we must leave the evidence of potter)*, whether 
Mr. Petrie or Mr. Murray be in the right, whether the 
vases of the Royal Mycenaean graves are to be dated late, 
by reference to lalysus and Camirus, or early, by reference 
to Kahun, Gurob, and other Egyptian graves and rubbish 
heaps. * 

The rival plausibilities of archseological argument are 
divertingly displayed in the case of a curious fragment from 

* See Mr. Petrie's letter in the Academy, June 25, p. 621, and 
other correspondence in that journal. 

• Reime Archt'ologiqiu, N.S., vol. xvi. 

• Brugsch, History of Egypt ^ English translation, ii. 1 1 6- 1 24. 

* Mr. Petrie has recently brought back from Eg)-pi the remains 
which he discuvered on the site of Kuenahlen's palace at Tel el 
Aniama. Here were found many .ligean potsherds ; and, as there is 
no reason to suppose that the site was ever inhabited after its destruc- 
tion on the death of its founder, Mr. Petrie's theorj* of very early 
-ligean pottery seems to be confirmed. 


the royal graves. In the Ephemeris Archaiologike for 1891 
is published a piece of a silver bowl, dug up by Dr. Schlie- 
mann, and cleaned many years later by M. Kumanudes.^ 
Here we see a walled city besieged, women wave their arms 
on the battlements, naked men below the towers ply slings 
and bows, there are also warriors with shields and spears. 
Now, partisans of the late date of the tombs may say, 

* Here, in the tombs, is a representation of slingers, a force 
unknown to Homer. Therefore, since Homer wrote, the 
sling has come in ; therefore Homer is earlier than the 
tombs.' But, first, is the sling really unknown to Homer ? 
In Iliad, xiii. 599, Menelaus wounds Helenus in the hand 
with a spear. * And the great-hearted Agenor drew the 
spear from his hand, and himself bound up the hand with 
a band of well-twisted sheep's wool, a sling that a squire 
carried for him.' Here the word translated * sling ' is rx^tr- 
I6vr\y the usual Greek word. The idea again occurs in 
xiii. 716, where the Locrian contingent are said not to have 
been heavy- armed men, *but, trusting in bows and well- 
twisted sheep's wool, they followed Aias to Ilios.' Here a 
(Tfefloyrj is made of well-twisted sheep's wool (xiii. 599, 
600), and here (xiii. 716) light-armed men are said to trust 

* in bows and well-twisted sheep's wool.' People who want 
to make Homer earlier than the tombs where slings are re- 
presented, must deny that the aifuvloyq^ used in the case 
of Helenus as a bandage, was a sling. Then what was 
it ? Why did the squire of Agenor carry a (T(piyl6vri for 
him? Agenor was not a field surgeon, like Machaon. 
What was the well-twisted wool in which the Locrian light- 
armed men trusted, if it was not slings? * We are driven 
to the conclusion that slings are alluded to in xiii. 716,' 

' It is engraved in Mr. Gardner's New Chapters in Greek History ^ 
p. 66. 


says Mr. Leaf.* I'hen Homer does know slings, and the 
slings of the tombs (which would make capital bandages) 
are not post- Homeric. So it seems, but then Mr. Leaf 
takes xiii. 600 as a later gloss, and xiii. 716 as 'a late inter- 
polation,* perhaps a specimen of false archaism, the inter- 
polator endeavouring to give an air of antiquity * by ascribing 
to the Locrians a practice with which his own time was un- 
familiar.' This was not a very clever interpolator if he 
thrust in— as old and Homeric — a weapon which Homer 
never mentions at all, if indeed xiii. 600 be * a gloss.' He 
tried to make his interpolation seem Homeric, by being 
as un- Homeric as possible ! Pausanias (i. 23, 24) took 
the Locrians in xiii. 716 to be slingers. But how can we 
argue when our texts are said to he interpolated exactly 
where they ser\e our purpose by apparently mentioning 
slings ? Or how can we argue if fTipeicovr) and ivoroi- /.cyu 
vuvfiaxof do not refer to slings and ship-fights, but to other 
things of the same name? 

If, however, Homer does not mention slings, it does not 
follow that thev are later than his date. He scarcelv ever 
speaks at all of the equipment of the light -armed crowd. 
He obviously despises the bow on the whole, as many 
passages declare. Now, on the bowl of the tombs the 
users of the slings are not only light-armed, but actually 
naked : the armed men use spears. The sling may well 
have been in use in Homeric times, whether Homer names 
it or not. It was the weapon of the unarmed masses, as 
of David in Israel. Homer might easily leave it unspoken 
of Or we might argue that, as Homer (on Schuchhardt's 
theor}') is much later than the royal tombs, the sling had 
been in use in the age of the tombs, and had gone out of 
favour in Homer's day. In later Greek it is mentioned by 

' xiii. 600, note. 


Archilochus ; it does not exactly follow that the bowl is of 
the age of Archilochus. 

This example shows how difficult it is to argue on the 
basis of a text which is said to be interpolated, and of 
antiquities which may be so diversely understood. 

Let us now turn to the most curious and beautiful 
treasures of the royal tombs, the dagger blades. They are 
of bronze, never of iron, though iron is so commonly 
mentioned in Homer. The dagger blades are decorated 
with inlaid work in gold. We see lion hunts : a Hon has 
overthrown a man, and is attacked by warriors with huge 
shields, as large as that of Aias, slung, not carried by handles.^ 
Other daggers show cats (not known in Greece) hunting 
wild ducks in papyrus swamps ; the subject is Egyptian, the 
treatment is more free and lively. The gold is of various 
colours, as in Japanese metal work. Now, Homer is 
familiar with such work in various-coloured gold,^ but no 
such antique art had been known to us before the discovery 
of the daggers at Mycenae. A similar dagger is found in the 
tomb of Aah Hotep, a queen of Egypt about 1 650-1 600 B.C., 
and bears the hieroglyph of an earlier king. The partisans 
of antiquity, then, naturally suppose that Homer was in- 
spired in his description of the shield of Achilles by ancient 
Egyptian metal work, already in vogue about 1600 b.c. But 
Mr. Murray attributes the introduction of such work into 
Greece to Ionian mercenaries in Egypt, about 650 B.C. ; ^ so 
that Homer, if he lived about 800 b.c, could not have known 
such inlaid work. But he describes it. Whence, then, did 
he learn it? Does any other work, which he may have 
seen, show anything like it ? As to the tomb of Aah Hotep, 
where the similar dagger was found, Mr. Murray says that it 

' Shield handles are said by Herodotus to be a Carian invention. 
2 Iliad, xviii. 561, 573, 597. 
■ Hamibook^ P- S^* 


also contained gold work, a chain and ear-rings, * clearly of 
Greek workmanship of about 600 B.C.* * Late Greek jewelry, 
we shall see, did not really get into a grave which seems 
undeniably that of a lady who probably died before 1600 b.c. 
Egyptolog)' is worth very little if it can make an error of a 
thousand years about a grave. 

The question of the dagger found in the tomb of Aah 
Hotep is of considerable importance. Its resemblance to 
the decorated poniards of the Mycenaean royal graves is 
very close. Its blade is of gold, with a centre of bronze, 
on which are piques, or inlaid in gold, the figures of a bull, 
a lion, and three locusts or grasshoppers. The lion is of 
the same aspect as the lions on the Mycenaean dirks ; the 
bull is of the same breed, spots and all, we may say, as the 
bull painted on the wall of the royal house in Tir}*ns. A 
similar bull occurs on a bronze dish found in the cave of Zeus 
in Crete. Is there any chance, then, that the dagger in the grave 
of Aah Hotep is later than the rest of her treasures (dated 
about 1 700- 1 600 B.C.), and is only of the seventh or eighth 
century, the date to which the partisans of the Tyrannic 
period assign the Mycenaean blades? This question can 
hardly be answered in the affirmative. All the treasures of 
Aah Hotep must assuredly have been buried at the same 
time, at a date j>erhaps ten centuries before the age of the 
Tyrants. This appears from the circumstances of their dis- 
covery. They were found in 1859 by M. Mariette, whose 
attention was drawn to their hiding-place by fragments of 
ancient potter)-. ' The site had never been ransacked 
before.* The royal mummy-case was unearthed * at a 
depth of from fifteen to eighteen feet.' The jewels, neck- 
lets, dirks, decorative axes, and other beautiful objects were 
not lying loose in the earth, but were wrapped up within the 

' Mr. Murray quotes Marie Ue, Album du Musie de Boulaq^ plates 


linen folds of the mummy, which, again, was guarded by 
the usual wooden and gilt mummy-case. It is impossible 
to believe that anyone, in a later age, opened the case, un- 
wrapped the swathings, and introduced objects merely for 
the confusion of modern archaeologists. They must all 
belong to one epoch, unless some were old heirlooms, and 
that epoch must be the end of the Seventeenth and the 
beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasties (i 700-1600 B.C.). 
In M. Mariette's Album du Mus^e de Boulaq a pair of 
Graeco- Egyptian ear-rings, say of 600 b.c., are photographed 
among the jewels of Aah Hotep. But in M. Mariette^s 
Monuments du Musee de Boulaq (sixth edition, 1876) 
the ear-rings are not included in the Queen's treasure, but 
are described among objects * from various sources.' They 
need not, therefore, be considered as bearing on the subject. 
The name of Amosis, first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, 
is found on the heads of geese which act as clasps to a 
gold chain of Aah Hotep, and the name of Ahmes, his 
predecessor, is on the blade of a poniard, near the handle. 
Thus, as far as we can see, the dagger which is so ex- 
actly analogous to those of Mycenae must be of the 
Seventeenth -Eighteenth dynasties, and those of Mycenae 
must be vastly nearer to that date (i 700-1600 b.c.) than 
to the period of the Greek tyrants. There really seems 
to be no escape, then, from the conclusion that the art of 
the Mycenaean graves is not Phoenician, and late, but is 
either Egyptian or Achaean modified by Egyptian influence, 
and early. ^ 

' Sec description and drawings of the Aah Hotep tomb in Revtu 
de r Architecture^ i860, pp. 98-III ; also in a volume of coloured 
engravings from the treasures, with an introduction by Mr. Birch. 
The drawings were made when the treasures were in the Exhibition of 
1862. See, too, Brugsch's Photographs of Mummies from Boulaq, 
where the pictures are much more distinct than in M. Marictte's Album 
du Musle de Bauictq, 


This discussion might be produced to any length, and 
would still leave us in wandering mazes lost. WTiy are only 
flint arrow-heads found in the Mycenaean tombs, while in 
the tomb of lalysus, among vases similar to those of 
Mycenae, the arrow-heads are of bronze ? Are the beehive- 
shaped vaulted tombs later than the dug tombs, the royal 
tombs, as most authors hold, or earlier, as Mr. Flinders 
Petrie believes ? We find ourselves in an almost pathless 
forest of difficulties and contradictory plausibilities. Has 
the spade broken into a splendid stratum, a long-lost world 
of antique Achaean life, or has it unearthed a much later 
stratum of the eighth century ? Tradition and sentiment 
are strong on the former side, which mainly relies on 
Egj-ptian analogies of 1600-1100 b.c. The desire to keep 
on a cautious path inspires the archaeologists who favour 
the second theor)*, and who do not, we may think, give 
sufficient weight either to tradition or to Egx-jnian evidence. 
They turn to the Assyria and Phcenicia of 800-600 b.c. for 
their arguments, while their adversaries favour the older 
Egypt of the Ramesids. Thus SteindorfT, in the Archiio:\>- 
gische Anzeige {1S92, p. 11), has no doubt that Mycenaean art 
is very ancient : he even thinks that it influenced contem- 
jx)rar>* Egyptian art. Winter also ^ lays stress on the car- 
touches of Amenophis III., twice found in company with 
Mycenaean objects, and maintains that this cartouche was 
not reproduced after the monarch's death. But Mr. Cecil 
Torr- disputes the genuine Egyptian character of these 
ver)- inscriptions. So the learned war sways this way or 
that.-* One kind of testimony api>eals most to literary 

' Of>. cii, 1S91, p. 3S. 

• Athetunim^ July 30, 1S92. 

' See a summan* by Mr. Cecil Smith in Classical Revirn\ Decem- 
ber 1S92. The name on the dagger of Aah Hotep * looks like a 
mis-spelling of the first name of the founder of the XVIIIih Dynasty 
(1700 B.C.).* 


Students ; the professional archaeologist, afraid of being 
duped, prefers the less adventurous course. Yet can any- 
thing be more adventurous than the opinion that Greece 
unanimously forgot the mighty architectural works of 
Pheidon or his successors, and unanimously assigned them 
to a dateless antiquity? This position is so manifestly 
weak that it prepossesses an inquirer against the arguments 
used in favour of the comparatively late date of the 
Mycenaean treasures. 

If we reject Mr. Murray's argument, and agree, with 
the majority of students, that the graves of Mycenae are 
pre- Dorian, we still do not see any clear light as to the 
date of the Homeric poems in pre- Dorian antiquity. We 
may vaguely conceive them to be very much later than 
the shaft graves. But the whole topic rests in suspense. 
The very occurrence of a Dorian invasion is denied by 
some, and at any moment all i ^ay be illuminated, or more 
darkly obscured, by some new discovery. 



Greece is not alone in possessing early national and heroic 
jx)ems. Germany has the NiMungenliedy France the 
Chansons de Geste^ England has Barivulf^ Finland has the 
Kalewala, All these have been examined with the purpose 
of discovering the secret of their birth, and so finding 
analogous illustrations of the origin of Iliad and Odyssey. 
Unluckily history does not absolutely repeat itself. More- 
over, the origins of Beowulf^ the Xibclungenlied^ and the 
rest, are nearly, or quite, as obscure as the authorship of the 
Greek epics. 

For a close analog)^ to the circumstances in which the 
Homeric epics were composed, we seem to want a warlike 
and aristocratic society, feeding its imaginative life with the 
traditions of the past, which exist in lays sung, now by 
warriors themselves (like Achilles), now by court minstrels, 
members of an honoured profession. In such a society, at 
a time when writing may not improbably have become a 
ser\nceable instrument, two long epics are produced, which 
deal with given facts occurring in a brief space of time, and 
united by their bearing on a great passion, the Wrath 
of Achilles, and a romantic event, the Return of Odysseus. 
Now probably the nearest analog}* to these circumstances is 
to l)e found in the XihuungenlieJ, and in the earlier French 
chansons de gestt\ esj^ecially The Song of Roland. 


We shall examine the Nibelungenlied first, as the more 
complex, following Lichtenberger's Le Pohne et la Legende 
des Nibelungen^ a remarkably lucid and temperate state- 
ment. The MSS. of the Nibelungenlied are very unlike the 
condition in which the MSS. of the Homeric poems have 
reached us. If we agree with Wolf that the text of Homer 
owes its present shape to Aristarchus and his contem- 
poraries, we must note that the Nibelungenlied had, so to 
speak, no Alexandrian period. The MS. A found in the 
last century in the castle of Hohenems, and now in the 
Munich Library, was regarded by Lachmann as the most 
ancient known text, apparently of the thirteenth century. 
It contains sixty-three strophes less than MS. B, and is 
very casually written (fliichiig),'^ The MS. A offers the 
shortest text, the metrical form is the least uniform, the style 
often more broken, the divergencies between the different 
parts of the epic more marked than in the other recensions.' 
The most careful, complete, and copious MS. is C. It 
has a hundred strophes not found in A or B, while thirty 
not in C are in A and B. Thus Lachmann, using A, has 
2,316 strophes in his edition, while Bartsch, using B, has 
2,379 strophes. Holtzmann uses C, * the most perfect MS. 
as to composition. Contradictions, disparities of tone, 
style, and metre, disappear or are greatly reduced.* But 
this text, far from being the most ancient, * bears all the 
characters of a comparatively modern rehandling.' As in 
the remaniements of the Chanson de Roland^ both B and C 
replace the ancient assonances by rhymes.* 

' Paris, 1891. 

' Fischer, Die Forschungen iiber das Nibelungenlied ,, p. 7. 
Leipzig, 1874. 

» Lichtenberger, p. 57. 

* Assonance is the recurrence of vowel sounds without regard to 
consonants. * Hat * and * cap ' are assonances. Thus — 


It is not necessary here to discuss MSS. A, B, C with 
their dependent groups. It is enough to say that the 
Nibelungenlied has not reached us h'ke the Homeric poenis, 
in texts of a uniformity fixed at least since the age of 
Aristarchus, and probably since a much earlier period, a 
point on which further discoveries of MSS. in Egypt may 
enlighten us. So much for one marked difference between 
the Greek and the German epic. 

Another is not less marked. The Homeric poems, ac- 
cording to Wolf, display unity and harmony of manners 
and sentiment. This is not found in the Nibtlungenlied, 
The characters are Catholics, and go to Mass. There are 
long descriptions of courts and festivals, of knights and 
ladies, in early mediaeval taste. But their |)assions break 
forth in such colossal massacres as marked the great bar- 
l)arian invasions, the clash of Huns and Burgundians. 
The blood-feud is the motive throughout, and * a murder 
grim and great ' is the natural close. A poet well ac- 
quainted with chivalrous manners and ideas is dealing with 
a subject handed down from an age of barbarism, if not of 
savagery. 'The Nihelungcnlied is the poem of the great 
invasions, and under the brilliant embroideries of Austrian 
jongleurs constantly appears the ancient warp and woof.' * 
There is thus a patent discrepancy between the society and 
ideas among which the poet lives and the society and 

* I put my hat uix)n my head 
And walked into the Strand, 
And there I found another man, 
And in his hand his hat,' 
is assonance, while 

* With his hat in his hand ' 

is rhyme. In ballads assonance is often found, and it is the nilc in 
the Chanson de Roland. I^ter versions turn the a<sonance< into 

' Lichtcnlwrger, p. ii. 


ideas of the age in which the legend first won its way into 
romance. This characteristic divides the German epic 
from the harmony of manners and notions in the Homeric 
poems. Homer sings of an age gone by, but he sees it in 
the steady light of his own times, and action and thought 
are, in his works, harmonious. 

As to the condition of poets in Homeric society, our 
information, if scanty, is clear. They were attached to 
kings' courts— Alcinous in Phaeacia, Agamemnon in My- 
cenae, Odysseus in Ithaca, have each their minstrel. He is 
honoured : to him Agamemnon entrusts his wife ; he is 
applauded and gratified by presents ; even in the slaying of 
the wooers Odysseus spares his minstrel. We are reminded 
of the sennachie of Fergus Mclvor, who receives, as reward 
of song, his chief's last silver cup. At the time when the 
Nideiun^en/ied gained its present shapes, the minstrel, or 
jongleur^ in Germany, was in a much less fortunate position. 
He was a wanderer, sans feu ni lieu^ a parasite, disdained 
by the Church. It was matter of theological knowledge 
that r\o Jongleurnttd expect salvation. Yet it is undeniable 
that these vagabonds chanted, in altered forms, lays of old 
German heathendom, lays which may, or must, have been 
among those which Charlemagne caused to be collected 
and written. The childlike conservatism of the people 
preferred the old songs, as children like to hear nursery 
tales repeated without variation. But the love of the new 
also made itself felt, and thus many innovations on the- old 
Germanic legend were certainly introduced in Germany, 
while Iceland and the North retained something much 
more original, and infinitely more natural and dramatic. 

It is the innovations, the inharmonious veneer of 
chivalric manners, which mark off the Nibelungenlied from 
the Homeric poems. In Austria, towards the close of the 
twelfth century, the position of the jongleur improved. The 

c c 


Emperor Henry VI. had a jongleur, Rupert ; Leopold V. of 
Austria had a minstrel named Eberhard : a convent accepts 
a present of a German book from a jongleur named 
Wolfker.* Such men as Rupert and Eberhard had pro- 
bably more leisure, lived a more settled life, and, above all, 
were in a position to address a societ>' in which reading 
and writing were not very unusual accomplishments. The 
jongleurs were no longer, like the Homeric minstrels, the 
only professional poets. There were Church poets, 
amorous and knightly poets, MinnesHnger. The stuff of 
the epic — the la)*s— had survived into a l)Tic age ; so the 
manners of the age of chi\'alrous lyric, the courtly amours, 
now colour the ancient legendar)' songs : we have rich 
dresses, feasts, tournaments, embassies. Finally (according 
to M. Lichtenberger's theory) some one redacted the Lieder 
thus altered and thus coloured, and by omissions, transi- 
tions, and so forth, produced a written Xibelujigefilitd. 
Obviously the action of this nameless writer answers to that 
attributed to the hypothetical Bearbeiier^ or redactor, who 
botched and patched a quantity of diverse materials into the 
Odyssey. But the errors of the redactor of the Odyssey 
are only apparent under the microscopes of a few German 
savants \ while other German savants, like Kanmier, frankly 
remark that * Kirchhoff has not the eyes to see the p>oetry 
of a situation.' ^ 

The incongruities of the Nibelungenlied^ the trailing 
construction of that chronicle-poem, are visible, on the other 
hand, to every reader. Neither Wolf nor anyone else can 
call it a mar\el of composition. Briefly, the simple, 
dawdling plan, trailing across the years has no analog)^ at 
all with the compact Odyssey. That a court jongleur of 
Vienna (to be specific) could redact the NiMungenlied 

' Lichtenbcrp[er, p. 405. 

- Kammcr, EinJuit dcr OJyssec, p. 5S0. 


does not raise a presumption that any man, out of a mass 
of lays and brief epics, could construct the Odyssey. We 
have often asked what the Bearbeiter's motive could possibly 
be : audience for a long epic he could have none in his late 
day ; the existence of a purchasing public of readers is not 
assumed. For the motives of the redactor of the Ntdc- 
lungenlicd^ M. Lichtenberger suggests that some great lord 
may have wanted the lays in a written copy ; or that 
jongleurs needed a written copy, * which would easily find 
readers, especially lady readers, in the chdteauxJ Here, 
then, is a conceivable motive, and here a p>ossible public 
for the red?ictor who first wrote out the Nihelungenlied, 
These motives we miss in the Homeric case, or shall we 
argue that, as writing was coming into use, one of the 
early tyrants desired to have a written copy ? On literary 
ladies in Greek cMteaux we need hardly speculate. There 
remains one very great distinction between the cases of 
* the German Iliad ' and the true Iliad. The scheme of the 
Nibelungenlied could be, and demonstrably was, very freely 
handled, was altered in essential points, and was equipped 
with large modern additions and brought into conformity 
with modern manners. We have no reason to believe that 
any one person, answering to the author or redactor of the 
Nibeiungenlied^ would ever have been permitted to take 
such liberties with the Bible and Doomsday Book of 
Greece— the Iliad. 

As regards the Nibelungenlied^ one fact in particular 
throws doubt on the idea that it is a ^ recueil factice of 
ballads,* redacted into shape. The poem is written in a 
peculiar strophe, thus : 

Uns ist in alten maeren wunders vil geseit 

Von held en lobebaeren, von grozer kuonheit, 

Von frciuden hochgeziten, von wcinen und von klagen 

Von kuener recken striten, muget ir nu wunder hoeren sagen. 

c c 2 


Now this strophe was a novelty in narrative poetry. It 
appears to have been introduced in lyric poetry, shortly 
before 1150, by Conrad von Kurenberg, and he is even 
regarded by some critics as the author of the Nibelungtnliedy 
or of an early version thereof. This is extremely dubious, 
but at least we may consider the strophe as an artistic and 
not a purely popular form of verse, and thus in the Nibe- 
lungenlied^ even if its materials are popular lays, they have 
passed through the hands of an artist, working for courtly 
hearers or readers,* and so cannot be merely stitched 
together. They are fused into a whole, and they wear a 
new form, with all that these facts imply. If this be true 
of a whole relatively so loose and inartistic as the Nibeiun- 
genlied^ if to construct even this demanded the hand of the 
artist who * chose the lays and groups of lays destined to 
form part of the collection, who fixed the beginning and 
close of the poem, united the groups, and probably p>er- 
fected the whole as to external form, language, and versifica- 
tion,'^ how much more is a single poetical constructor 
needed for the Iliad and the Odyssey ! 

The analogy between the Greek epics and the Nibelun- 
genlied would be closer than it is if we happened to possess 
the story of the Iliad in two, or rather three, different forms, 
one derived from Thessaly, one from the coast of Asia Minor. 
For, as regards the Aibe/ungenlied, we have the South German 
poem in its various texts, and we also have the I^end 
partly in the shape of Northern lays, partly in a prose 
paraphrase of these, and of other lost lays, known as the 
Voisuftga Saga. We shall first examine the Northern, the 
Icelandic lays, and the saga which gives their contents in 
prose. This shape of the legend, as any reader must see, 
is the most ancient ; it bears no trace of Christian influence 
and few marks of chivalrous medirevalism. The sources 

' Fischer, «?/. cif. p. 252. " Lichtenberger, p. 41a 


are (i) the poetic treatise of Snorri Sturlason, called, for 
some reason, The Edda} This book is commonly styled 
the * Prose or Younger Edda,' and contains, a propos of 
a periphrasis for *gold,' an analysis of the story of the 
Nibelungen or Niflungs. In 1642 was discovered (2) a manu- 
script collection of lays, unluckily incomplete, which is now 
known as Codex Regius (No. 2365 of the Royal Library of 
Copenhagen). The discoverer, or promulgator. Bishop 
Brynjolf, styled this MS. *The Edda of Saemund the 
Learned ' — a mistaken title. This collection of fragmentary 
lays, usually named * The Poetic Edda,' or * Song Edda,' or 
* Older Edda,' is not, of course, an epic (as some have 
imagined), and makes no such pretensions. Its contents 
are poems and fragments of various ages and characters: 
even the pieces on the Nibelungen legend are not all of one 
sort or of one date.^ Among the passages bearing on the 
Niflungs, or Niblungs, in the Corpus Boreale, derived 
from the Codex Regius, we find The Old Play of the 
VoisungSy *the earliest known version of the story of the 
Volsungs in a dramatic form.' The characters impart to 
each other didactic advice and mythical lore. Then we 
have The Old Lay of Ath\ *one of the most ancient 
Teutonic epics'; only 175 lines remain, and these deal 
with a part of the story near its close. Hamdis-Mal^ or 
the Old Lay of Hatntheow (137 lines), tells a part still later. 
Then we have * the flower of Northern epic poetry,' con- 
taining Helgi and Sigrun^ a poem of the ancestry of the 
hero of the Nibelung tale. Their feats are also sung in 
The Western Volsung Lay^ and now Sigurd (as he is called 
in the North), the hero, himself makes his appearance, slays 

' See Vigfusson and Powell's Corpus Boreaicy i. xxvi, ii. 514. 

'^ Messrs. Powell and Vigfusson suppose the authors to have been 
South Scandinavians, residing in the Western Isles. Op. cU. i. Ixii- 


a serpent, wins a hoard of treasure, with a curse on it, and 
wakens a maid, Sigrdrifa, from an enchanted sleep. Xext 
we reach a lay in which the young hero Sigurd has his 
fortune told him by Gripi, a prophet It is a summary of 
the tale by anticipation. Next The Long Lay of Brunhild 
shows how she had Sigurd, whom she loved, slain by her 
husband's brother, and how she went down to the place of 
death. Ihe Lamentation of Gudrun^ for her brother's 
slaying by Atli, gives an unusual version of that event In 
The Old Lay of Gudrun (Sigurd's wife) she tells her story 
to an exile at the court of Atli, her second husband, and 
her account of Sigurd's murder diifers from that in The Long 
Lay of Brunhild. There Sigurd is stabbed in bed, here he 
is slain in the wood on the way from an assembly. This 
poem calls Sigurd * the slayer of Gothorm,' and he himself 
is slain by Hogni. In Brunhild Gothorm kills Sigurd, and 
is skin by the dying hero. The Tale of Gudrun is elegiac, 
she watches by her dead lord, and cannot weep till one 
draws the face-cloth from the face. Gudrun's Chain of 
Woe is her lament before she leaps into her funeral fire. 
She tells of her latest sorrows with her third husband. The 
Greenland Lay of Atli makes Gudrun a Medea. Atli has 
slain her brothers, she slays her own children by him, and 
murders him in his sleep. 

These are the chief lays, and it is manifest that they are 
poetical expositions, often discrepant, of the events in 
a legend. They are not fragments of an epic, but different 
poets, in different early times (say 850 1 100 B.C.), are telling 
parts of the same tale, but telling it differently.* 

There came no poet to construct an epic out of these 
lays, chanted probably by warriors and warrior poets of the 
North, rather than by mercenar}* jongleurs, as in the South. 
But there did come, (3) early in the thirteenth century, a prose 

' For possible dates see Corpus Borcale^ i. Ixiv, Ixvi. 


writer, who worked on the known lays, and on lost lays and 
legends. The result of his labour is the Volsung Saga. ' The 
prose sagaman did not produce an example of concentrated 
epic unity. He rather began ab ovo with long genealogical 
accounts of his hero's ancestry. In the earlier part of the 
saga two points are notable. First, the adventures of the 
hero's ancestry are, in some parts, like the central story 
itself, only more briefly told. They turn on destructive blood- 
feuds between a married woman and her husband's kin. 
They are like earlier, ruder, and briefer sketches for the 
central legend. Secondly, the saga, especially in its earlier 
portions, is barbarous, almost savage. Shape-shifting and 
lycanthropy (the superstition of were-wolves) play a great 
part. The supernatural machinery is frankly heathen. The 
saga, like the lays which inspire it, is thus far earlier in 
character than the South German Nibelungenliedy and gives, 
no doubt, an older form of the fable. Yet there are German 
influences at work : we hear of the Rhine, of Goths and 

We now examine the story as it is in the saga, and show 
how the lays are handled by the sagaman. He begins with 
a son of Odin, Sigi, and passes through several generations 
before he comes to his real hero, Sigurd. Sigi, Odin's son, 
fled from his home for a manslaughter. He becomes King 
of Hunland, marries, and is slain by the brothers of his wife, 
thus anticipating the central legend. His son Reris avenges 
Sigi on his mother's brothers. Reris is childless, and a May, 
daughter of a giant, brings him a magic apple. His wife 
eats of it, and bears a child, Volsung, who is for six years 
in his mother's womb. Volsung marries the Apple- May; his 
children (besides nine others) are Sigmund, and a daughter, 
Signy. Sigmund, like Arthur, lightly draws out a sword 

' Translated by Mr. William Morris and Mr. Magniisson. There 
is a cheap edition (Walter Scott, London, s. a.). 


which Odin has driven to the hilt in a tree. Signy 
reluctantly marries Siggeir, King of Gothland. He covets 
Sigmund*s sword. He invites Volsung and his children to 
Gothland, with treacherous intent. Signy in \^n warns her 
kindred. Here, again, the story of the Niblungs at Atdla^s 
court is anticipated. All the Volsungs but Sigmund are 
slain : he escapes to the woods. Signy sends him her chil- 
dren by Siggeir, whom he kills. By art magic she lies with 
him in the shape of another woman. Her son by her 
brother is Sinfjotli. After some adventures as were-wolves 
Sigmund and SinQotli slay Siggeir and his children ; Signy 
perishes with them. Sigmund marries Borghild ; his two 
sons by her are Helgi and Hamund. Norns prophesy of 
Helgi's fame. Helgi defeats King Hunding, loves Signin, 
fights her affianced lord, Hodbrod ; in this battle Sinfjotli 
and one Granmar exchange filthy heathen taunts, in respon> 
sive strains, like Lacon and Comatas in the fifth Idyll of 
Theocritus. Helgi slays Hodbrod, and marries Sigrun. 
Sinfjotli slays the brother of Sigmund's wife ; she poisons 
him. Sigmund divorces her, and marries Hjordis. Hun- 
dings son, Lyngi, defeats and slays Sigmund, whose sword is 
broken. Sigmund's wife, Hjordis, escapes to King Alf, 
canning the fragments of the sword. She bears Sigmund s 
son Sigurd, and now at last we come to the hero of the 
NibelungenlUd under his Xorthern name. 

So far, out of old lays, still preserved in the Codex 
Regius, the sagaman has used He/ga-kvida, * Helgi and 
Sigrun,' * telling how Borghild bore Helgi, and how Xorns 
came to that birth, the slaying of Hunding, the wooing of 
Sigrun by Helgi, the war of words l^tween Sinfjotli and 
Granmar (called Godmund). But the lay gives an account 
of Helgi's slaying not in the saga ; he was slain by Sigrun*s 
brothers. Here, again, the fate of Sigurd is anticipated ; in 

* Corpus BorcaU^ i. 131. 


fact, Helgi and Sigrun, in the lay, are doubles of Sigurd and 
Gudrun in the central part of the saga. The living Sigrun 
joins her dead lord, Helgi, in his barrow. All this would 
have clashed with the central interest, so the sagaman 
rightly omitted it. We can only conjecture as to 
whether these forecasts of the central plot are refractions 
from it, or whether they represent an earlier legend, later 
localised in Gothland, Rhineland, and Burgundy, and fitted 
with historical names, such as Atli (Attila). 

With the rearing of Sigurd, under Regin, the smith, we 
begin to reach the real gist of the saga. To understand 
the sagaman's treatment of his materials, it is well to examine 
the story as it exists in the lays. The Old Play of the Vol- 
sungs gives the legend in a dramatic form. One Rodmar 
had three sons, Fafnir, the serpent, Regin, the smith 
(Sigurd's tutor), and Otter. This is savage enough, and 
may have its origin in Totemism. The gods went wander- 
ing ; one of them threw a stone which killed Otter. As 
atonement (ttoiij/) was demanded gold enough to cover the 
Otter's skin. Loki, the mischievous god, caught a rich 
dwarf in a net, and extorted all his hoard, including his last 
magic ring. This hoard the dwarf cursed, and it is the 
fatal Rhine-gold of the Nibelungenlied. Rodmar received 
the gold ; Fafnir, his son, killed him, ousted Regin, and 
wallowed on the wealth. Urged by Regin, Sigurd slew 
Fafnir. As he roasted Fafnir's heart, by Regin's instructions, 
he tasted it (this is a Mdrchen told in Scotland of Ramsay 
of Bamff), and so understood the talk of birds. Their song 
warned him to kill Regin, which he did, to keep the gold, 
and to waken Sigrdrifa^ a maiden who lay in an enchanted 
sleep. ^ In the drama, she gives him moral advice, and there 
that piece ends. 

In the western Volsung's Lay, the birds not only advise 

' Mdrchen of La Belle au Bois Dormant. 


Sigurd to slay Regin, but to go to Giuki's daughter, a 
'battle- fay/ cast into a sleep by Woden, for slaying in fight 
others than he wished to fall. Here, as before, her name 
is Sigrdrifa. Her human parentage, as Giuki's daughter, is 
given. Then the lay ends. In Gripi's or Grifir's lay, that 
prophet tells Sigurd his fate. After slaying the dragon, 
and waking *a kings daughter' unnamed, he is to lo\-e 
Brunhild, Heimi's foster- daughter, really daughter of Budli. 
To her he shall vow his faith, but, after one night at Giuki's, 
he shall clean forget her.^ By art of Giuki's wife shall 
this oblivion be wrought, Sigurd shall marry her daughter, 
Gudrun, and win Brunhild for Gudrun^s brother, Gunnar, 
king of the Goths, wearing Gunnar's shape, and lying with 
Bnmhild *as if she were thy mother.' Gudrun's brothers 
Hogni and Gunnar shall be bound by oaths to Sigurd, but 
not the youngest brother, Guttorm. Brunhild shall dis- 
cover the secret of her wooing, and urge on Guttorm, as 
unsworn, to kill Sigurd. 

Here ends the prophecy. It is not clear, in this lav, 
that Brunhild is the enchanted maiden whom Sigurd is to 
awake, for the passage is obscure. In The Long Lay of 
Brunhild she calls the dwarf's hoard 'the hoard of the 
Rhinc^ a river which first makes its appearance here. In a 
short Brunhild lay we learn that ' Sigurd died south of the 
Rhine,' slain, not in bed, but in a wood, as also in The Old 
Lay of Gudrun. 

Here we leave the lays, at the moment of Sigurd's death 
by his wife's brothers' hands, and ask, How does the saga- 
man tell the stor\' up to this point ? 

Regin fosters Sigurd, forges for him the sword Gram 
out of the shards of Sigmund's sword, urges him to kill 
Fafnir. Odin gives him the horse Grani, Grifir (Gripi) tells 

* Marckeft of Black Bull o^ Norraii'aVy with many parallels. 


his fortune, he avenges his father on the Hundings, slays 
Fafnir, tastes the heart, hears the birds, slays Regin, wakes 
Brunhild in her castle within the wall of flame. He meets 
her again at Heimir's, her foster-father's, where she em- 
broiders his great deeds in gold on cloth, like Helen in 

We are now in a more civilised region. They swear 
troth, though Brunhild foresees the end. And thus the 
sagaman has knitted his tragedy, for, in the saga, Sigurd 
and Brunhild are true lovers severed by fate, while in 
the Nibelungenlied^ Siegfried and Brunhild are nothing to 
each other. The saga follows the lines of the Mdrchen in 
which a lover quite forgets his lady after infringing some 
magical prohibition or taboo. In popular tales she always 
wins back his heart : in the saga they are fatally sundered. 
Hence arises the nobly dramatic display of character, the 
man enduring life as he may, the woman dashing herself 
and him on their death in her passion. After Sigurd and 
Brunhild have sworn troth, he rides away to Giuki's realm, 
* south of the Rhine.' Here we reach the spot where the 
Nibelungenlied begins. Giuki's daughter Gudrun answers to 
Kriemhild, in Burgundy, with her brothers. King Gunther 
and others. In the saga Grimhild is the mother of Gudrun. 
As in the Nibelungenlied^ Gudrun dreams a dream, that 
she has a goodly hawk, and again that she has a golden 
deer, which Brunhild slays, giving her a wolf-cub, which 
besprinkles her with her brother's blood. Brunhild inter- 
prets the dream : Gudrun's brother shall bewitch Sigurd, 
Gudrun shall wed and lose him, and marry Atli and lose 
her brethren and slay Atli. Grimhild gives Sigurd the ob- 
livious potion, Brunhild he quite forgets, and marries 
Gudrun. Then he is sent to win Brunhild for Gudrun's 
brother, Gunnar, for Gunnar cannot ride through the fire 

' It seems they had a daughter. 


that encircles her ^^astle, and Sigurd, taking his semblance, 
rides the flames. He lays a sword between them in bed, 
and Budli brings his daughter Brunhild and his son Atli 
to Giuki's, where Gunnar and Brunhild are wedded Then 
comes the quarrel between Gudrun and Brunhild, and 
Gudrun proves that Sigurd, not Gunnar, won Brunhild, dis- 
playing in proof Andvari's fatal ring, taken from Brunhild's 
hand by Sigurd. From the outbreak of this quarrel to the 
slaying of Sigurd in bed by Guttorm, Gudrun's youngest 
brother, the saga holds its own with the highest and most 
passionate examples of literature. Homer has no such 
scene, no such ideas. The mastery of love in Brunhild^s 
heart, her scene with Sigurd, where he ranges through 
every choice before them, to live as friends, to live as 
lovers, her disdainful rejection of friendship, her Northern 
pride of purity, his anguish, her determination to slay him 
and follow him, her one laugh as she hears (ludrun's first 
moan over the dead, her death, the mourning of the horse 
Grani, as of Achilles*s horse Xanthus, the lament of Gud- 
run — all this is mere perfection, all is on the loftiest level 
of Shakespeare, and has no parallel in Greek or Roman 
poetry. It is as modern and comes as near our hearts as 
if it had been written yesterday, and, while men and women 
love in despite of fate, it is true and moving for all time. 
Of this magnificent jxissage the central glory, the scene 
l>etween Sigurd and Brunhild, is not represented in extant 
lays ; the wrath of Brunhild, the murder, her death and 
descent to the Dead, are in the lays, also the lament of 
Gudrun, and a prophecy by Brunhild. 

This prophecy, and another lay, The Lamentation of 
Ordrun^ indicate a version of the story which the sagaman 
did not follow. Ere she dies, Brunhild declares that 
Gunnar, her husband, shall win the love of Ordrun, Atli's 
sister, and shall be put by Atli in a dungeon full of snakes. 


In the Lament Ordnin herself tells the tale. Gunnar was 
her paramour ; therefore Atli treacherously got Gunnar and 
Hogni and the other Niblungs into his power, cut out 
Hogni's heart, and put Gunnar in the adder-close. The 
sagaraan, on the other hand, follows The Greenland Lay of 
Atli. In a passage not based on extant lays, he tells how 
Grimhild made Gudnin take Atli for her second husband. 
Atli covets the accursed hoard of Fafnir's gold, now in the 
hands of Gunnar and Hogni. He invites them to his 
house, but Gudrun sends a message of warning, cut in 
runes on a staff. ^ Atli*s envoy cuts other runes on it ; the 
underlying runes of warning are detected by Hogni*s wife, 
but too late. The sons of Giuki, despising many omens, 
go to Atli*s hall ; they are set on, they fight manfully, 
Gudrun fights on their side. All are slain but Hogni and 
Gunnar, who are taken. Gunnar refuses to reveal the 
hiding-place of the hoard under the Rhine till he sees 
Hogni's heart in a plate. Hogni*s heart is cut out, and 
Gunnar says that now no man save himself knows the 
secret place of the hoard, and he will never reveal it.^ 

The Nibelungenlied^ after a scene answering to this, 
makes Kriemhild (Gudrun), who wishes to know the secret 
of the treasure, slay Hagen (Hogni) and be herself slain, 
when the epic ends, leaving Etzel (Atli) in perfect health. 
The saga, on the other hand, heaps on Gudrun the deeds 
of Medea and Thyestes ; she slays her own children by 
Atli, cooks and serves them up to him, and by aid of 
Hogni^s son, Niblung, slays Atli himself. The rest of the 
saga, following old lays, recounts a third marriage of 
Gudrun, the awful slaying of her daughter by Sigurd, the 
vengeance taken for the death of this daughter, Swanhild, 

' The Australian * message stick * or * talking stick.* 
- Miirchen of the Last Pict, and the Secret of the Heather Ale, in 
Chambers's Popular Tales of Scotland. 


and the destruction of the avengers by the counsel of Odin, 
and so ends all the house of Giuki and of Volsung. 

In the lays and saga the motives are the blood-feud 
between wife and husband, and the curse laid on the hoard 
of Andvari. The religion is heathendom ; the manners vary 
from the savagery of the were-wolves to the gold embroider}- 
of Brunhild and Gudrun. In battle the forces are few. 
In the fight within the hall Atli has some thirty men, while 
in the NiMungenlied the religion is Christian, manners are 
chivalrous, and many thousands of heroes fall in the palace 
of Etzel (Atli). To turn from the saga and the old lays to 
the Nibe/ungenlied is to leave art for the artificial, plain 
prose or noble poetry for a detestably jigging measure, and 
the succinct telling of a tale for a wilderness of padding and 
verbosit)'. The Nibelungenlied has not the qualities of true 
popular poetr>' ; it is a professional's work, a professional 
who apparently was paid for his much speaking. The 
poet introduces us to Kriemhild of Worms in Burgundy, 
daughter of Dancrat (Giuki) and Uote (Grimhild). Her 
brothers are Gunther, Gemot, and Giselher (Gunnar, 
Guttorm and Hogni, though Hagen of Tronje, who plays 
Hogni's part, is not one of the brothers in the Nihelungen- 
liedy Kriemhild, like Gudrun, has a dream of a fair hawk 
strangled by two eagles ; her mother interprets it of a 
husband. We are now introduced to Siegfried (Sigurd), 
son of the King of the Netherlands, Siegmund (Sigmund), 
who is still in perfect health. From a story told later by 
Hagen, we learn that Siegfried once met the Nibelungs 
sharing a huge treasure. They made him umpire and gave 
him the sword Balmung (Gram) as his fee. The affair 
could not be settled : he routed them all and seized the 
treasure, killing hundreds of men, a form of silliness in 
which mediaeval often rivals Hindoo romance. The saga 
introduces no such nonsense. Xcxt Siegfried overcame 


a dwarf, Alberich (a dim recollection of Andvari ?), and 
robbed him of the cloak of darkness, and made him warden 
of the Niflung treasure. This Siegfried, having heard of 
Kriemhild, rides with twelve men to her father's court, 
where he swaggers in a boastful manner, is cajoled, aids 
the Burgundians in war against the Saxons (here is very 
much conventional fighting), shines in a tournament, presses 
Kricmhild's hand, lingers sighing in the court, and, finally, 
goes with Gunther to woo for him Brunhild. She is an 
athletic maid, who challenges her wooers to put the stone, 
jump and throw the spear, killing those whom she defeats. 
Siegfried's prize is to be the hand of Kriemhild. They 
travel with Hagen and Dankwart. Reams are here written 
about their new clothes — silks from Morocco and Libya, 
fish skins, and what not. They reach the glorious castle of 
Isenstein ; Brunhild takes Siegfried for Gunther's inferior. 
By aid of the cloak of darkness Siegfried vanquishes 
Brunhild, while Gunther seems to be the agent. Siegfried 
next brings an unnecessary escort of a thousand Nibelungers 
to Brunhild's court. After large banquetings and tournays 
at Worms, Siegfried is married to Kriemhild, and Gunther 
wedded to Brunhild, who laments that Kriemhild should 
be mated with an inferior, Siegfried. She spies a mystery, 
and will not be a bride indeed to Gunther till the secret is 
confessed. The misfortunes of Gunther on his wedding 
night, his succouring by Siegfried, aided by the cloak of 
darkness, Siegfried's theft of Brunhild's ring and girdle, his 
gift of these to Kriemhild, are well-known incidents. In 
all this passage, so unlike the tale in the saga, there is 
plenty of vigour and rough humour. Brunhild, once 
wedded, is no stronger than any other lady, though in the 
bridal chamber she nearly murdered Siegfried. 

Kriemhild and Siegfried return to their home, and after 
ten years are invited to visit Brunhild and (lUnther. Each 


lady praises her lord, but Brunhild insists that Si^fned is 
her husband's vassal. On entering church, Brunhild bids 
Kriemhild wait and let her pass. Kriemhild announces 
that Siegfried has been Brunhild's lover, and shows the fatal 
belt and ring. The Burgundian nobles determine to slay 
Siegfried. Hagen is the most resolute. He discovers fix>m 
Kriemhild that her husband is invulnerable : after slaying 
a dragon, he bathed in its blood, a leaf fell on one spot 
between his shoulders, there he may be wounded. That 
Hagen may know where to guard him in battle, she sews 
a little cross on his coat. This, of course, is absurd, as in 
battle his armour would hide his coat. Consequently it is 
at a hunting party that Hagen slays Siegfried as he stoops 
to drink of a stream. Kriemhild remains in Burgundy with 
her brother Giselher, who has had no part in the murder. 
The hoard, her Morning Gift, is brought to Wonns : Hagen 
seizes it, and hides it in the Rhine. 

The second half of the poem recounts the slaying of 
Gudrun's brothers, in vengeance for her husband. King 
Etzel, the Hun, has lost his wife Helca ; he sends 
Ruedeger to woo Kriemhild. She at first declines, but 
ends by asking Ruedeger if he will swear to avenge any 
injur}' done to her. He takes the oath, she marries Etzel, 
seven years pass, when she invites the Burgundians (hence- 
forth called Nibelungen after the hoard) to her court, with 
purpose of revenge. Hagen foresees doom, omens are rife, 
river nymphs prophesy bane, but they set forth, and after 
many adventures and friendly entertainment by Ruedeger, 
reach the court. Kriemhild shows her hostility ; her 
attempts are baffled by Volker, knight and minstrel, a new 
character, and by Hagen. One day she takes young 
Ortlieb, her son by Atli, into hall, as the beginning of strife. 
The squires of the Xibclungen are slaughtered, news of it 
is brought into hall, Hagen slays young Ortlieb, the fight 


begins. Dietrich of Berne, however, calls a parley, and is 
permitted to take Kriemhild and Etzel (a weak, well- 
meaning man) out of the battle. The fight then rages to the 
end. Legion after legion of Huns is destroyed ; Ruedeger 
must fight against his Burgundian guests for his oath's sake ; 
Dietrich and his men, too, must join the fray. All are slain 
but Gunther and Hagen, who are delivered over to Kriem- 
hild. Hagen says that Gunther must be killed before he 
tells the secret hiding-place of the hoard. When Gunther 
is dead, he, like Gunnar, refuses to reveal the secret. 
Kriemhild slays him, and is slain by old Hildebrand : 

diiu ist der Nihelunge-n6l. 

The last scenes of the Nibelungenlied have the merit of 
vigour and of a certain ominous fatality which broods over 
them to the close. When compared with the Northern 
lays and with the saga, the Southern poem leaves an 
impression of fatal fluency. Perhaps half of it is occu- 
pied by otiose descriptions of dresses, tournays, feasts, 
ceremonies, and pageants, all mediaeval. The topography 
is copious and minute in places, elsewhere all is vague 
enough. The geographical horizon is wider and clearer 
than that of the saga, though even in the saga Brunhild 
speaks of having warred in Greece. In the south a wife 
avenges her husband on her brothers ; in the north she 
avenges her brothers on her husband, as the law of the 
blood-feud demands. The northern version is, there- 
fore, the earlier. As the Nibelungenlied seems too long 
for recitation (it contains some 12,000 lines), except 
in very favourable circumstances, we are inclined to 
suppose that it was meant to be read. The chivalric 
manners are all of a piece in contradistinction to the 
sanguinary and long-deferred revenges. The Nibelungen 
themselves are a vague people of fancy : the Dragon 

D D 


is much in the background, there is no curse on the 
hoard, the relations between Brunhild and Siegfried are 
relations of spite and pride, not of thwarted and hope- 
less love. Kriemhild's revenge is inconsistent with her 
usual character as an ideal lady of chivalrous romance. 
Atli has been changed from a ferocious conqueror into a 
mild-mannered man enough. The original legend, in 
brief, has been greatly diluted and half forgotten, while the 
whole has passed through a comparatively modern medium. 
The poem is not * primitive,' nor is it * popular ' : it is 
meant for an audience of knights and ladies. What older 
lays were in the author's hands, and how he handled them, 
for want of specimens of the lays, it is impossible to say. 

The whole legend has grains of historical fact in its 
mass. There was a Gundicar, king of the Burgundians, 
who, with his people, was exterminated by the Huns about 
440 a.dJ There existed Burgundian kings- Gibica, Gon- 
domar, Gislahar, and (lundahar. The legend offers ihree 
royal brothers, sons of Gibich, named Gunther, Ciisclhcr, 
and Gemot ; these, in the traditions, were betrayed to 
death by King Etzel, Attila the Hun. In the Northern 
slof)' Atli is slain by his wife, and so Attila, who died on his 
wedding night, was in some traditions slain by his bride, 
Ildico (453 A.i>.).*- Both Northern and Southern epic and 
lays speak of Dietrich, or Thjodrek, at Altila's court ; thi> 
is Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. He was fifty years or 
so later than Attila, but his father, Theodosius, had been in 
exile among the Huns. 

The story of Sigurd Fafnisbana, or Siegfried, may well 
be older than those events with which it is combined bv 
romance. He is explained as a sun-myth and as a light- 
ning- myth, but may be merely a hero of Marchen^ elevated 

' rrospcr Aquilanus, Chron, ad an. 435. 
" Sec authorities in Lichlenberger, p. 424 


by poetry into more cultivated mythology. The legend of 
the treasure is mysterious. In the Northern versions it 
supplies a motive; it is under a curse. In the Southern 
epic it is not even said to be accursed. It may be a 
mere treasure of fairy tale such as Dwarfs possess, or it 
may conceivably be part of a moral myth on the evils of 
great wealth, or it may be the hidden sunlight, as in the 
theories of solar mythology. But why is it hidden in the 
Rhine ? Can this be a legendary echo of the burying of 
the hoard of Alaric in the Italian river-bed? We have 
seen that the lays of Sigurd's ancestry show the central 
plot, the domestic blood-feud, several times recurring. 
Probably enough, the original Mdrchen of Sigurd, the 
dragon-slayer, the wakener of the Sleeping Beauty, ended 
happily. But the donnee of the blood-feud was combined 
with the Mdrchen \ historical events and characters, * half 
remembered and half forgot,' were brought into the tale, 
which began to assume epic proportions, but only won its 
way into an epic late, and in unskilled professional hands, 
when the manners of the original narrators were things of a 
lost world. 

The Greek heroic traditions, containing, perhaps, about 
as much of historical truth as the NibelungenUed^ fell into 
the hands of the divine poet, and were handled with uni- 
formity as regards manners and ideas, with unparalleled 
nobility of style, and with all the Greek sentiment for 
harmony and unity. 

D D 2 



Of all national heroic poems the famous French S(fn^ of 
Roland comes nearest to the Homeric example, not by 
imitation, though the author knows Homer's name, but as 
a similar result of similar forces and historical conditions. 
The poem is intended for recitation to an audience of 
ladies and warriors. It has a central theme — the wrath of 
Ganelon the traitor, with the ruin it brought on many souls 
of heroes, the Franks of France. The theme rests on a 
remote historical fact, altered and magnified by legend. 
There is even a divine machinery in the interposition of 
the Archangel Michael. The action is concentrated within 
narrow limits of time and space The diction is archaic, 
and there occurs, as has frequently been said, the note of 
epic repetition — passages recurring with textual exactness. 
Above all, as in Homer, the poet chants of a national 
endeavour, the war of Charlemagne in Spain (778), and of 
a national disaster, a national hero, a strife with Oriental 
enemies — the Saracens. 

No parallel to Homer is likely to be more perfect than 
this, and while we can see more or less clearly the social, 
historical, legendar)-, and poetical conditions in which the 
French epic arose, we can also trace the remaniemcnts. the 
re-handlings, of the original poem. Written in the eleventh 
centur)', in laisscs^ or tirades of unequal length, in which 


assonance, not rhyme, is employed, the poem was later 
re-handled, rhyme was substituted for assonance, and the 
lines of ten feet were finally exchanged for Alexandrines. 
In these processes the epic was diluted, weakened, and so 
altered that it would be impossible to hesitate as to which 
are new and which older portions. The whole tone and 
character alter ; between the version of the eleventh and 
that of the thirteenth century there is a manifest break and 
gulf of change. So far as analogy is worth anything, this is 
an argument against the presence of much late work in the 
Greek epics. Their tone is harmonious ; manners and 
metre are consonant throughout. The lapse of two 
centuries, on the other hand, brought a changed measure 
and new ideas into the Song of Roland, Finally, the French 
literature shows us the 'cyclic mania' in perfection ; 
whole epics and cycles of epics are made to complete the 
old stories, and to connect them with genealogies of illus- 
trious families, exactly as in the case of the Telegonia of 

The historical conditions in which the French epic 
arose are these : there was an age of national splendour, 
and royal, not feudal magnificence, in the reign of Charle- 
magne. Then occurred the attack on Charles's rearguard 
by the Basque Highlanders, at Roncesvaux (778). In that 
fight fell, as Egihard relates, * Hruodlandus, warden of the 
march of Brittany.' This is Roland ; history has no other 
word to say of him whose legendary fame fills the rnouth of 
poetry. It is known that popular lays were sung on the 
military events of those ages ; thus the popular view of them 
was handed down through three centuries. But legend 
fused all the royal Charleses together, in the heroic shape of 
the aged king with white-flowered beard, though Charles 
was but thirty-seven at the date of Roncesvaux. Times 
and events were confused ; for the Basques the Saracens 


were substituted ; comparatively modem occurrences, such 
as the sack of Jerusalem, were thrown back into the past ; 
Roland was said to have conquered England ; the whole 
affair was magnified ; and, to account for the defeat, a 
traitor, Ganelon, was introduced, in a manner characteris- 
tically French. For three centuries there was une fermenia- 
Hon epique^ as M. Gaston Paris says,* and thence arose the 

The poems were promulgated by the jougleurs, or 
jongleurs, who in some respects answer to, and in others 
differ from, the rhapsodes of historic Greece. M. Leon 
Gautier, indeed, avers that the rhapsodes, or acdes (singers) 
of Greece, marched at the head of armies and led them 
to victor)'.* But Homer shows us that the aoidm, or Court 
poets, were left at home, and Greek histor)- offers no 
example of a rhapsode at the head of an army. The 
jongleurs, as a rule, were under the ban of the Church, like 
actors, mimes, and acrobats ; but an exception was occasion- 
ally made in favour of those *who are specially called 
jongleurs \^joni la tores] and sing the deeds of kings and the 
lives of saints * — that is, the chanters of epics.* These 
viellatores narrated the exploits of Charles and Roland.* 
These epics stimulated men to great deeds, and escaixxi 
the general condemnation. Taillefer sang a song of Roland 
in front of the Norman army l^fore the battle of Hastings, 
as we read in the Roman dc Rou. 'I'he dread of a maut^aise 
chanson, a satirical lay, was a great impulse to \-alour. 
Like the Greeks and Trojans, the French were determined 
to be 

' Lit. Franc, an Moycn Age^ p. 36, 1890. 

- Epopt'fs Francaises^ ii. 4. Edition of 1S92. 

' a. the Penitent ie I of Thomas of Cobham, al the end of the 
thirteenth century. Thomas was .ArchlMshop of Canterhur)' in 1313. 
Gautiei, op. tit. ii. 21, note. 

* MS. Sermons, Oa-vivWi, o|>. cit. \\. avo, uote. 


to be famed in song in future generations, and to shun the 
(Trvyept] aoih), the mauvaise chanson^ or * ill song,' that 
requited Clytaemnestra.^ 

Thus the epic reciters had a certain social standing, and 
concerning one of them, the author of Of^er^ we learn that 
he was of gentle birth.* As a rule, these jongleurs recited 
the poems of others, of trouv^res^ but a few were poets 
themselves. When a jongleur was a poet, he usually pre- 
served his copyright by keeping his manuscript carefully to 
himself. Occasionally he taught the verses to jongleurs 
for pay, or sold copies.^ Thus we have, as has already been 
remarked, examples of the value of a written poem in an 
age when epic verse, as in (ireece, was much more fre- 
quently recited to an audience than read by individuals for 
their private pleasure. The jongleurs, as a rule, were wander- 
ers, and would recite in hostelries or at street corners, but 
some took service with lords. "* The extravagant rewards 
bestowed on them, both in money and plate or rich 
garments, were condemned by the clergy. Some jongleurs, 
in a very modern way, offered to sell their praises, to 
introduce the aristeia of a living warrior, for a pair of 
scarlet hose. Amoud, Count of Ardres, refused this inex- 
pensive immortality, the insertion of his name in the 
Chanson cTAntioche, when offered by a jongleur."' The 
jongleur did not always find it easy to please his audience. 
They rejected what was familiar, yet wanted what was old. 
It was not unusual to pretend that a new song had been 

' Iliad vi. 358. Odyssey xxiv. 200. Chanson de Roland^ 1466 : 
* Male 9anson n'en deit cstre cant^.' 

* Jouglere fu, si vesqui son cage, 
Gentishons fu, cttrestout son lignage.* 
Gautier, op, cit, ii. 46, 

' Gautier, op. cit. i. 214-218, ii. 48. * Ibid. ii. 51. 

• Chroniqne de (hiinra et if Ardres ^ p. 3 1 1, Gautier, op, cit. ii. 1 19, 


freshly discovered in an ancient MS. There was a kind of 
school of jongleurs at Beauvais in the Lent of each year, 
where they gathered and learned new lays.* The lateness 
of these notices of the school at Beauvais, in the end of 
the fourteenth century, when the true hour of epic had long 
passed, prevents us from detecting here a close analog)* 
to the hypothetical school of Homeridae in Chios. In 
knightly halls, as in Homeric Greece, chansons de ges/e 
were recited by the jongleurs after dinner. How long 
might a recitation last ? Huon de Bordeaux is a poem of 
10,495 verses. At line 4,962 the jongleur says that he is 
tired, and requests his hearers to listen to him again on the 
following day. Then, and in another piece, follows a sum- 
mar)' of the first day's portion, to revive the memory of the 
hearers or instruct those who had been absent. These 
remarks only occur in one MS. of each poem. M. Leon 
Gautier has tried reciting the poems, and finds that not 
more than 1,000 verses could be got through in an hour 
even without the interruption of an audience. By chanting 
for six hours a day, the Odyssey could be finished in two 
days, but we may believe that it entertained the winter 
evenings for a longer period. As to France, M. Gautier 
thinks that the reciter abridged, selected choice passages, 
and in other ways, especially by drinking a good deal of 
wine, lightened his task."^ When we add that there were 
jealousies among jongleurs, and that they accused each 
other of ignorance and of corrupting the authentic songs, 
there is little of essential omitted in the account of these 
mediaeval rhapsodes. They by no means answer to the 
sacred singer, the aoidos of Agamemnon or Alcinous, but 
between them and the later Greek rhapsodes there are 
obvious resemblances. 

• Pro cantilenis ftaz'is afptirntes. Gautier, op. cit. ii. 176. But 
this was as late as 1402. ^ J bid. IL 232-236. 


Was the singer of the Song of Roland^ as we possess it 
in the oldest MS.— that of the Bodleian — a poet, or an 

* arranger ' ? M. Gaston Paris inclines to the latter opinion. 

* He was more than a mere renouveleur^ he has transformed 
an old poem, which we may divine in the Carmen ' (a Latin 
poem later than our MS. of Roland\ * and the Latin romance 
of the pseudo Turpin ' (which is also later in MS. than the 
epic).^ On the evidence of these shapes of the legend, 
M. (iaston Paris supposes the poet to have added the intro- 
duction and the episode of the death of Aide (Roland*s 
lady), and to have placed the execution of the traitor at Aix. 
There are certain contradictions or discrepancies, as where 
Marsile, the Pagan king, says he has no army, and after- 
wards raises a large force ; certain hostages are claimed, 
and we hear no more of them ; Ganelon's character is not 
consistent (a point which may be disputed), and so on. 
But while these discrepancies may be the result of altering 
an older work, we may just as probably conclude that the 
poet, * in aiming at a momentary effect, loses sight of the 
ensemble of his composition.' * For an author may fail to 
make his inventions tally absolutely whether he is working 
over an old canvas or constructing a new whole. Not to 
understand this, to regard discrepancies as proofs of 
Ueberardeitungy and to criticise fiction as if it were contem- 
porary history, is precisely the fault of many Homeric 
commentators. On the whole, it seems unnecessary to 
regard the author of Roland as anything else than a poet, a 
maker, who has materials in legend, possibly in ballad, and 
who handles them in a free artistic spirit. As to the ballad 
materials, we know that contemporary cantilena on battles 
and heroes had existed, but they are not extant, and it is 
impossible for us to discern their presence in the epic. To 
disengage kleine Lieder is out of the question. 

' Gaston Paris, op, cit, p. 57. * Ibid, p. 59 


As to the date of the existing poem, that is inferred from 
the absence of allusions to the first Crusade, from the 
archaeology — the arms and equipments are those of the 
Bayeux Tapestry ( 1 066 - 1 080) — from the system of assonance, 
from the style of language, all of which fix it at the end 
of the eleventh century. The authorship is unknown ; the 
poem closes 

Ci fait la geste que Turoldus declinet. 

* Here ends the poem which Turoldus ' finished or narrated, 
but we cannot tell whether Turoldus was a poet who com- 
posed, a jongleur who recited, or a scribe who wrote the 
MS.' The action of the poem must be briefly stated. 

Charles has conquered all Spain save Saragossa. There 
Marsile, the Saracen king, is in doubt what to do. An 
adviser proposes to send large gifts, and promises to come 
and be baptized, if Charles will leave France. Hostages 
must be given, and will be slain when the promise is 
broken, but this must be endured. The embassy goes to 
Cordova, and finds Charles beneath a pine. Next day he 
consults his barons ; a quarrel arises, as in the first book of 
the Iliad. Roland, Charles's nephew, wishes to attack 
Saragossa. Ganelon, Roland's stepfather, wishes to accept 
terms. It is decided to send an envoy. Roland, Oliver, 
Turpin volunteer, and are rejected. Roland proposes that 
Ganelon shall go on this perilous mission : hence the 
wrath of Ganelon. He rises in anger, threatens Roland, 
and departs. On his way the Saracen envoys >^'in him over. 
Nevertheless, he delivers a haughty message to Marsile ; his 
life is in peril, he half draws his sword. Ten mules' loads 
of gold make him change his tone. He returns to camp 
with a feigned message. Roland leads the rearguard, with 
the twelve peers, as the French move north, and the main 
body emerges from the Pyrenees. 

' Leon Gautier, Epopees Fraii^aises^ ii. 391, note. Edition of 1867. 


The rearguard hears the earth tremble beneath the feet 
of a inarching army. Oliver bids Roland sound * a blast of 
that dread horn' to summon back Charles. He refuses. 
The battle begins— a series of single combats on horseback. 
Oliver's spear is broken ; he strikes with the truncheon. 
Roland bids him draw his sword Hautecl^re. Roland 
at last sounds the horn ; the blood bursts from his mouth. 
Reinforcements of negroes come up, the French fall, 
Turpin and Roland alone survive. Turpin is down. 
Roland blows a last blast on the horn. He is answered by 
the clarions of Charles. The Saracens hear them and flee. 
Turpin blesses the dead and dies. Roland strives to 
break his sword Durendal, lest it fall into Pagan hands. 
The good sword will not break. Roland crawls on to 
Spanish soil, lies down above his sword and horn, and dies 
with his face to the foe. He holds up his glove to God, 
and the angel Gabriel, descending, bears away the token. 

The rest of the poem, nearly half of it, deals with the 
revenge on the Paynim and on Ganelon. Aide, Oliver's 
sister, Roland's love, dies at the news of Roncesvaux. 
Charles is in peace at Aix, but a divine voice tells him that 
his labours arc not ended. * God I ' said the king, * toilsome 
is my life.' 

The Sofia^ of Roland is no Iliad, nor its poet a Homer. 
He has not the wisdom, the humour, the knowledge, the 
delight in every aspect of life, the strong flow of various 
verse. He never deals in comparisons ; he does not take 
all human fortune for his province. His battle-piece is 
exaggerated in detail, though most spirit-stirring. The 
patriotic conclusion, the revenge, is long-drawn and dis- 
proportionate. But the poem is truly national, truly 
martial, truly religious. The characters are admirably 
defined. Ganelon, with a grain of honour leavening his 
corruption, is more subtle than anything in the Iliad, *a 


noble baron' with a felon heart. Roland, impetuous, 
daring, hot of temper, selling his own life and the enemy's 
for the point of honour ; courteous when Oliver, blind with 
blood, smites him by mischance in the last charge of the 
Franks, is on a level with Achilles in all but rhetorical 
splendour in debate. Of all his successors in the North, 
the poet of the Sigurd lays and the poet of Roland are the 
only true descendants of Homer ; they alone have been 
taught by the same muse. They have much, but his 
charm, his variety, his mellowness, his universality, were 
given to Homer alone. Still, in the poet of the lays and 
in the poet of Roland we recc^nise the artist, not the 
arranger or redactor. What the redactor is, what he can 
do, we see in the case of the Finnish collection, called an 
epic, the Kaletvala} 

' For general use the best edition of Roland is that of M. Leon 
Gautier, ^ith a translation into modem French, For a fuller exposi- 
tion than space here affords, the writer may refer to his article on ' The 
Song of Roland and the Iliad,* in the National Revieiv^ October 



The so-called epic, the Kakwala^ of the Finns, differs from 
the Greek, German, and French national poems, because it 
arose in different social conditions. It is not concerned 
with kings and knightly warriors ; its heroes are * magnified 
non-natural men,* idealised magicians, or medicine-men. 
We hear nothing of courts, no echo of historic wars loses 
itself here in legend. There are traces of rivalry with the 
Lapps ; of history there is none. The songs of the 
Kalewala are chanted by a people without distinctions of 
rank ; they have passed through the hands of no epic poet 
singing for a knightly audience. In Finnish poetry there 
are no varieties oiform^ as in the lyrics and epics of other 
races. All verse, magic chant, narrative song, love song, 
songs. of all seasons and labours, dirge, and epithalamium 
are alike couched in the metre of Hiawatha^ strongly 
marked by alliteration. The metre is so simple and 
natural that, as far as form goes, anyone can be a poet. 
Now the Kalnvala is a mere string of older and newer 
lays of every kind, arranged chronologically as far as 
possible, and eked out and contrived so as to form a sort 
of whole by the learned Dr. Lonnrot (bom 1801). 
Lonnrot, an erudite and an enthusiast, set himself, between 
1830 and 1850, to do for Finnish songs what, on Wolfs 
theory, Pisistratus did for the scattered Homeric lays. It 
has, therefore, been thought by some that here we have a 


practical proof ot Wolfs hypothesis. But the conditions 
and results bear no real analogy whatever. Lonnrot, in a 
learned age, was consciously acting on a learned theory. 
About the nature of his materials we have every informa- 
tion ; about the nature of the materials which, ex hypothesis 
Pisistratus employed, we can know nothing. Finally, 
Lonnrot*s results in the Kalewala are altogether unlike the 
Iliad and Odyssey in structure and character. After a long 
prologue, the bard speaking in his own person and asking 
for beer, the Kalewala tells the myth of Creation, and only 
ends with the introduction of Christianity. The inter- 
mediate events are strings of disjointed mythical adven- 
tures of idealised medicine-men and smiths, while the onlv 
unity is given by the presence of Wainamoinen, a being 
half demiurge and half man, while even he is frequently 
absent. Obviously we have here no selecting and con- 
structing artist's hand. There was no Finnish epic before 
Lonnrot ; he found no scattered parts of an original epic, 
but only scattered lays, all in the same measure : and while 
vast portions of the Kalewala could be omitted, as many 
could be added at will, without altering the character of the 
collection. Hence this interesting assortment of lays — 
often beautiful, and always inspired by love of nature — casts 
no light whatever on the Homeric poems. The Kalewala 
contains the story of no united national effort. The heroes 
fight, like Hal of the Wynd, for their own hands. The 
gods even do not form a community as in Homer. They 
are all independent in their own provinces. *Thus the 
myth is unripe, and thus the epic is unripe.'* The exist- 
ence of great families, >vith their traditions and house'^old 
bards, seems essential to the growth of epic. In Finland 
there were no such houses. 

To make a summary of the Kalewala is rather a tedious 

* Comparetli, Der A'alcuHiIa, p. 299. 


business. In the first rune, an unearthly maiden, 
Ihnatar, daughter of Air, descends to ocean, is impregnated 
by the sea, floats for centuries, lends her body as resting 
place to a duck, whose golden eggs become earth and sky. 
The child of Ilmatar, Wainamoinen, bursts his bonds, and 
lands on earth. The myth is much akin to one current 
among the Iroquois. Wainamoinen, as Culture Hero, takes 
to felling trees and sowing barley. He has an altercation 
with a young Lapp minstrel, Joukahainen, from whom he 
extorts his sister, Aino. She drowns herself; the hare (as in 
Zululand) brings the tale to her mother. Wainamoinen 
laments, and, by his mother's advice, goes to seek a 
daughter of Suomi. Joukahainen shoots him, and leaves 
him in the water. He lands on the coast of Pohjola, in 
the domains of a woman named Louhi. She offers to send 
him home if he will forge for her a sampo ; she will also 
give him her daughter. A sampo is a magical object, the 
exact nature and meaning of which cannot be determined. 
Wainamoinen says that Ilmarinen (an ideal smith) can 
forge it, and Louhi promises him her daughter. Waina- 
moinen on his homeward way learns that three magic 
words are needful in sampo-making. Now comes the lay 
of the Origin of Iron, with a magical song of blood- 
staunching. Ilmarinen forges the sampo, Louhi takes it, 
but does not give the promised bride. 

Now comes in a long lay of Lemminkainen, or Ahti, 
and his many and unlucky loves. He is slain, chopped 
up (like Osiris), and thrown into the Finnish Styx, 

The river of Tuoni, 
In ihe death realm of Manala. 

His mother fishes out the pieces, and reunites them by 
magic songs. Wainamoinen builds a boat, finds the lost 
magic word, and sails to Pohjola to woo Louhi's daughter. 


Ilmarinen, however, wins her by achieving difficult tasks, 
as in the story of Jason at the court of .-Eetes. He is aided 
by the girl. This is the Finnish form of a Mdrcfun known 
in Samoa, Madagascar, North America, and all the world 
over. There follows a poem on beer, a description of a 
wedding, and a collection of nuptial songs. 

The most superficial reader of poetry must now obsen-e 
that between the Kalewala and the Odyssey there is simply 
no artistic analogy at all. 

After a lay of the Origin of the Serpent, Lemminkainen 
is reintroduced, doing mischief in Pohjola. Frost is sent 
against him by a magic spell. But here comes in the 
legend of Kullervoinen, an evil person slain by Kullen-o. 
Ilmarinen now forges a golden bride, who is unsatisfactory, 
and again woos fruitlessly in Pohjola. The heroes make an 
expedition and capture the sanipo, but lose it in the sea. 
Hear-songs, disease-songs, songs of the stealing of sun and 
moon, follow, and finally Mariatta, a virgin, becomes a 
mother, and Wainamoinen sails into the sunset. 

Obviously the Kaleivala has no unity, and is no real 
epic. I^nnrot collected a number of ancient or later songs, 
but * he is much more than a singer or gluer together of 
songs. He is familiar, as none of the Finnish singers were, 
with the idea of an epic. He was obliged to break up and 
distribute the different fragments of songs through the 
IK)em, as he had conceived it. He had all the variants 
before him ' (they still exist), * and fixed the text of each not 
with reference to its goodness, genuineness, and antiquity, 
but as each would be useful in the texture of his poem.' ' 
He used magic songs as well as epic and epico-lyric lays. 
' If wc observe the course that Lonnrot was obliged to follow 
in order to construct a poem out of short lays, one feels how 
absurd is the idea that a Greek of the time of Pisistratus 

' Comparetli, p. 309. 


or earlier, that a jongleur, or a monk of the Middle Ages 
. . . would ever have thought of undertaking and carrying 
out such a work. Such a proceeding is not even conceivable 
for an Indian of one of the many centuries during which 
the monstrous Mahddhdraia was heaped up. Yet these 
were times of science, of speculation, of grammar.' * 

Comparetti (p. 106) shows us how Lonnrot worked. And 
here it is to be said that Lonnrot was no Macpherson. He 
left his collections behind him, and worked avowedly as 
redactor, composing out of MS. sources. 

In Rune I., as printed in Lonnrot's first edition and in 
all known variants, Wainamoinen is maker of the world. In 
the second edition, the Fiiie de VAir is maker ; Lonnrot 
combines a song of creation with a song of Wainamoinen's 
birth. The second rune contains three songs— of Plough- 
ing and Sowing, of the Oak Tree, of Planting Barley — 
which are properly distinct. They are magical songs, for 
the good of trees, earth, and grain. The story of Aino 
(whom Wainamoinen wooed) is a romantic mosaic, fashioned 
by Lonnrot out of several songs. Aino is not the sister of 
Joukahainen in tradition, and Wainamoinen the Old is not 
her wooer. Lonnrot had to make Aino the sister of 
Joukahainen, to hitch her story into the connection. The 
tale of fishing up a salmon which proved to be the drowned 
Aino in a new shape — 

Was never salmon yet that shone so fair 
Above the nets at sea — 

has nothiog to do with Aino. This maiden is a divine 
being, like Leucothea in the Odyssey. 

A casual flirtation of Wainamoinen with the Maiden of the 
Rainbow is brought into connection with the sampo songs 
by Lonnrot. It is not known in Archangel, where sampo 

* Op, cit. p. 312. 

E E 


songs abound. The wounding of Wainamoinen's knee,' and 
the Song of Healing goes usually with The Making of the 
Kanteie, or harp, less commonly with the sampo songs, and 
is older than either. In the expedition to recover the sampo, 
Wainamoinen is accompanied by Ilmarinen and Lemmin- 
kainen, who answers to Paupukeewis in Hiawatha, Now 
Lemminkainen in the popular lays does not join the expedi- 
tion. The hero who goes has several names ; Lonnrot 
called him Lemminkainen, by way of getting a slender 
thread of connection with what had gone before.* Many 
magical songs of the Bear, of Fire, and so on, were 
dragged in by Ixinnrot.' The myth of the Maiden -Mother 
is found all the world over, and may be older than Chris- 
tianit)* here, though now wearing a Christian colouring. 

In spite of all this redacting there is no organic or original 
unity in the K(iie7vala, all its merit, which is great and 
peculiar, is found in its deep sympathy with nature, its 
natural magic. This is the gift of native, untaught culture. 
This gives happiness and beauty and charm to a hard and 
poor life ; this does for the people what civilisation does not 
even begin to tr)' to do : this culture civilisation in\-ariably 

To forge out of the songs of the Finns, with all their 
merit, the sampo of Homeric poetr)* demanded a Homer. 
Lonnrot was no Homer. Had Homer possessed the mate- 
rial, he could have made an epic out of the stor}- of the 
sampo, a compact and dramatic poem. But this was 
exactly what Lonnrot did not do. If we continued the 

' Compare Tsui Goab among the Kaffirs, in TheaPs Tsui Goah. 

' Comparelti, of. cit. p. 119. 

* Magic songs {Karakias in New Zealand) give the reciter power 
over the various objects whose origin they describe. Magic love-songs 
are common among the Ojiblx^ways. Much early poelr)' and early 
art had a practical, not an esthetic, pur^wse. See *Thc Art of 
Savages,' in Custom and Myth. 


Theogony of Hesiod into the Argonautic legend, threw in 
an episode or two from the Theban cycle, including a 
number of magical chants * and dithyrambs, and ending 
with a version of the Gospel as understood and narrated by 
the Pythoness who uttered the Last Oracle, we should have 
a Greek composition analogous to the Kalewala. An epic 
needs materials and a poet — materials and an editor will 
not suffice ; and only in times like ours, inspired by Wolf's 
hypothesis, could an editor be found for the materials.^ 


This brief summary of the Homeric question cannot end 
better than in the words of the distinguished Italian scholar 
who, in his Myth of (Edipous^ practically dealt the death- 
blow to solar mythology— Signor Comparetti. To the 
Homeric problem he brings not only vast learning and a 
fine literary appreciation, but, what is even rarer than these, 
a sense of historical proportion, and common-sense. In 
his Preface to his work on the Kalewaia (p. ix) lie says : 
* The anatomical and conjectural analysis which has been 
applied so often and so long by classical and unclassical 
philologues and grammarians to the Homeric poems and 
other national epics proceeds from an universal abstract 

> itraoiH^ V atfia KtKaivhy tax*^^^' Od. xix. 457. 

' The English reader can study the Kalenuala in Mr. John Martin 
Crawford's translation. (Putnam*s Sons, London, 1889.) The 
Kalewalay as is well known, inspired Mr. Longfellow's Hiawatha ; 
his materials he found in the Red Indian traditions collected by 
Schoolcraft. There is a translation of the Kalewaia in French prose 
by M. Leouzon Leduc, and one in German verse by Schiefner (1892). 
Lonnrot's first collection of songs is Kantelc. ( Helsingfors, 1829-31.) 
The first edition q{ Kalewaia is of 1835, and is described as * Old Finnish 
I-Ays from Carelia.' The second edition, with many additions, and 
with Lonnrot's work in altering and composing, is of 1849. 


principle, which is correct, and from a concrete application 
of that principle, which is imaginary and groundless. 
•• * The true principle, recognised since the end of last 
centur)', separates the " personal " and learned Art -epics, 
like the ^-Eneid and the Gtrusalemme Liberate, from those 
which belong to the period of spontaneous epic production, 
when Folk-singers fashioned many epic lays, of small or 
moderate compass.* These epic lays were called " national" 
or " popular," not only by virtue of their contents, sentiment, 
and audience, but mainly because the poetry which takes 
this form is natural, naif, collective, popular, and hence 
" national " in its origin and development. 

* The baseless application of this principle is to regard 
the national poems not as creations of a single poet, but as 
put together out of shorter pre-existing lays, either by a 
single person at one time, or by several in succession, until 
the final fashioning of the poem. And this process is con- 
ceived of as a mere stringing together, without any sort of 
fusion, so that a critical philologist, thanks to his special 
sharpness and by aid of certain criteria, would be in a posi- 
tion to recognise the joinings, and to recover the lays out ot 
which the poem has been made up. 

* ^^'ith this preconceived idea people have gone on anato- 
mising the epics ; from Lachmann to the present day they have 
not desisted, although, so far, no positive satisfactor)' and 
harmonious results have been won. This restless business 
of analysis, which has lasted so long, impatient of its own 
fruitlessness, yet unconvinced of it, builds up, and pulls 
down, and builds again ; while its shifting foundations, its 

* We may doubt whether Folk -singers often produced more than 
the ballads of victory or defeat which French and Scottish girls sang 
in their dances, or, at mast, a ballad like Chevy Chaee or Kinmcnt 
IVillie. The epic lay is rather the work of the minstrel at a Greek 
court, or in the hall of a Frankish or Highland chief. 


insufficient and falsely applied criteria, condemn it to remain 
fruitless, tedious, and repulsive. The obser\'er marks, with 
amazement, the degree of intellectual short-sightedness pro- 
duced by excessive and exclusive analysis. The investiga- 
tor becomes a kind of microscope man, who can see atoms 
but not bodies ; motes, and those magnified, but not 

* Thus the Homeric question has not been settled, but 
has spread among other national epics. No doubt, before 
the epic there existed shorter lays ; but what is the relation 
of the lays to the epic ? Is the epic a mere material syn- 
thesis of lays, or does it stand to them as a thing higher in 
the scale of poetic organisms — does it move on a loftier 
plane, attaining higher, broader conceptions, and a new 
style appropriate to these 7 ' 

The study of MSS. tells us nothing. We have the 
Sigurd and Helgi lays of the North, but you could not 
make an epic by joining them together. * Not a single lay 
has been found that also forms part of a great poem,' 
though some have been found which form materials of a 
great prose romance, the Voisung's Saga. 

So much for the * little lay theory ' {Kieinliedertluorie), 
But there remains the nucleus theory, for example, of an 
original Achiiieis, expanded by self-denying poets into an 
Iliad. Comparetti, though regarding the Greek umcoQ as 
one who chants not only his own poems but the poems of 
other people, does not believe that he would fashion lays 
* to be inserted in a greater mass already constructed by 
others, nor that he would have done this with so much 
respect for other men's work, and with such strict limitation 
of his own, that the modem erudite can recognise the join- 
ings, and distinguish the original kernel and each of the later 
additions. . . . The difficulty is increased when we have to do 
with epics which seem in all their parts to be composed on a 

422 HOMER 

definite plan, which exists in the final poem, not in the 
supposed kernel. The organic unity, the harmony, the 
relation of all the portions, which are arranged so as to lead 
up to the final catastrophe, are such as to imply the agreement 
and homogeneity of the poetic creation in a common idea, 
and, moreover, resting on that agreement — a limitation of the 
creative processes. Nowall this, according to our conceptions, 
can hardly have existed in different poets and at different 
periods. It appears natural that additions should be made, but 
natural, also, that these would be numerous, disparate, and 
manifold, determined by the fancy and feeling of this poet 
and that, in widely severed places and times, to whom 
(ex hypothtsi) it was open to continue or develop a com- 
paratively short traditional piece/ An old Mahabhdrata of 
8,000 slokas might thus be increased to the monstrous 
agglomerate of 107,000 slokas. * But that in this fashion 
such rounded wholes as the Iliad and Odyssey, poems so 
duly restricted in compass, in matter so circumscribed, in 
structure so well proportioned, could have been achieved 
is as hard to imagine as it would be in the case of a 
tragedy or tragic trilog)-. Certainly the mass of poetic 
material which in different ages and places must have 
gathered round any such hypothetical kernel must have been 
considerable and disparate. But he who could extract 
from this mass the epics which we possess, and not a kind 
of Greek Mahdbharaiay would have produced, at all events, 
such a work of genius that in fairness he must be called 
not merely the redactor, but the author and poet.' Thus 
Comparetli's analysis of the Kakivala brings him, as far as 
the Greek Epics are concerned, to our own conclusion : 
namely, that the Iliad and Odyssey are neither collections of 
short lays, nor expansions of an original brief epic, but that, 
on the whole, they are the composition of a poet — * the 
golden poet,' Homer. 


The Australian Message Stick 

In the argument on early writing it is urged that the Australian 
Message Stick, or Talking Stick, proves that the most back- 
ward races are not unacquainted with some species of inscribed 
signs. As to the nature of the signs but little is published. 
The only Message Stick which the writer has seen is a polished 
piece of hard wood, about ten inches long, covered with deli- 
cate etching. But the message is chiefly conveyed by means 
of pictures. A house, church, and fences convey the news of a 
fresh settlement by Europeans ; boomerangs and waddies 
(clubs) show that the natives are resisting ; fish indicate that 
the fishing season has opened. There are also conventional 
lines, which are said to tell a love story of considerable length. 
Dr. Harley informs the writer that a European recently 
carried a Message Stick from a tribe to their kindred at a 
distance. The interpretation was communicated to him by 
the sender. On reaching the recipients, he begged one of them 
to read the message to him. The man retired into the bush 
for a short time, and then explained the message in the same 
words as the sender. It is said that the conventional signs 
(not pictures) bear a general resemblance to Ogham writing ; 
though, of course, we can hardly regard them as characters, 
nor are we certain how far they vary among different tribes. 



The stick is an open letter— there is no folding up, as in the 
tablet of Proetus carried by Bellerophon. The conventional 
marks indicate some advance beyond the picture-wTiting of 
the North American Indians. 

The Tenth BtHfk of the J Had 

It is argued in the text that to admit this book to be an inter- 
polation opens the door to the general theory of complex 
interpolation. Mr. Monro points out to the writer that simple 
interpolation, as of this whole book, is one thing ; complex inter- 
polation, as of the armour in Book xviii., involving many minute 
changes throughout the preceding books, is quite another thing. 
* .\ happy addition came to be current, and so got into the 
tcxtus rcccptus^ which was probably formed, not by Alexandrian 
critics, but by the needs of the Athenian book-market, in the 
fifth and fourth centuries RC' As an exposition of the modifi- 
cations introduced into early epic MSS. in France, the fourth 
chapter of the first volume of M. Leon Gautiers Epopees Fran- 
guises well deserves study. If similar practices prevailed in early 
Greece, the present condition of the Homeric text can only 
be accounted for either by the Commission of Pisistratus or 
by recourse to some original and recognised version of the poems. 
But it is probable that these national possessions were never 
treated with the arbitrariness of the old French copyists. 

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